Excess Email Could Be a Company Liability

October 9, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Keeping copies of numerous e-mail messages outside of a company's central e-mail management system could be a liability if the organization is asked to produce electronic information in a lawsuit, according to a recent study.

The study by Recommind and Osterman Research found organizations’ data storage resources are being used to store e-mail messages that are of little or no value and could leave companies vulnerable to unnecessary exposure in later litigation.

A large number of survey respondents said they are keeping e-mail that is not relevant to the company, with 58% saying the e-mails they receive and file on a daily basis could best be classified as “nice to have” or “unimportant.”

The authors of the study attribute the storage problems to e-mail management that relies too much on manual e-mail management practices, with more than 70% of employees reporting that they kept copies of some or all of their e-mails in external locations such as a .PST file on a localized computer hard drive. Not having this information easily available could mean significant eDiscovery costs, potential sanctions, and increased potential litigation exposure, according to the study.

The study did show that 90% of those surveyed acknowledged their employer had the right to control the retention of their work e-mail, and 83% understood their e-mail could be used as evidence in a lawsuit.