Email Archiving, the White House, and the Need for Privacy

Will we ever know the truth behind the White House’s shenanigans around the lost emails to do with the Valerie Plame affair? According to this CNN story, the White House is using exemption from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as a rebuttal to the latest attempt by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) to get at the truth.

Reality aside, if the White House had a properly architected email archiving system at the time in question, with appropriate usage policies (and if they weren’t using backups as email “archives”), we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But therein lies the key question. Does the White House really want an email archive to record everything that goes on in the inboxes of those heading up the U.S. Administration?

We suspect not.

Regardless of what goes on behind the closed doors of the White House, it is very common for organizations to purposely avoid deploying an email archiving solution. We are sure that many of our readers can relate, with corporate legal teams either explicitly instructing IT to delete all email after 30/60/90 days, or simply refusing to invest in technologies to capture and retain all email.

Implementing archiving and retention policies is not always a clear win-win scenario, especially to lawyers. Sometimes the risk of keeping email around is greater than the risk of possible spoliation charges.

David Sengupta

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