Email is an increasingly used method of business correspondence and therefore an important information asset, liable to evidentiary discovery. However, with many email systems it is difficult to organise messages in a useful manner (especially in context with other related documents) and owing to their volumes they are prone perhaps more than other document formats to periodic archive or deletion, without consideration being given to their value as a record to be retained within the audit trail.
Increasingly, document management solutions are providing features for intelligent email management. Examples include:
- Auto-categorise emails based on their header records and/or content
- Search and retrieve emails based on their category values rather than scanning through the header records in in-boxes/folders
- Route emails to those best qualified to deal with them
- Secure and encrypt sensitive emails
- Scan emails for content that can lead to potential legal liability
- Scan emails for unauthorised dissemination of electronic work, product information or trade secrets
- Integration with email systems such as Lotus Notes or Microsoft Outlook
For the purposes of records management, the solution should provide an archive capability which ideally retains and manages the emails, attributes (such as subject, sender, recipients, sent date etc.) and their attachments as a single record entity. 'Electronic Documents and e-Commerce Transactions as Legally Admissible Evidence': the BSI code of practice, PD 5000:2002, enables organisations to demonstrate the authenticity of their electronic documents and e-commerce transactions, so they can be used as legally admissible evidence. This set of 5 International Codes of Practice cover the whole scope of the e-business revolution. They provide essential guidance on how e-commerce systems should be managed to provide the required security and integrity of business information.
The parts are:
1. Information Stored Electronically (BIP 0008, previously PD0008)
2. Electronic Communication and e-mail Policy
3. Identity, Signature and Copyright
4. Using Certification Authorities
5. Using Trusted Third Party Archives
PD 5000:2002 can help firms put management systems in place to show appropriate proof of:
- delivery of e-mail and attached documents
- authenticity and integrity of the messages
- the use of encryption to ensure message privacy
Please also see our complementary information resource, The Document Site
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