Regulations force routine scrutiny of IM and e-mail

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Regulations force routine scrutiny of IM and e-mail

A survey commissioned by Hitachi Data Systems has stated that new corporate accountability regulations require more recording and monitoring of staff e-mails and instant messaging.

The survey, which covered organisations across Europe, the Middle East and some countries in Africa found that more than half of firms routinely monitor employees’ e-mail messages and even more archive all e-mails.

More than a third of companies also monitor IM communications, while the vast majority have put in place explicit staff guidelines for both e-mail and IM use.

This introduction of new corporate accountability regulations, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, has led many companies to review their electronic communications policies. This is particularly true in heavily regulated industries such as financial services, where companies face severe penalties for failing to comply with communications auditing requirements.

"Over the next year or so, we expect to see most companies making significant investments in e-mail management systems and similar technology," says Fanie van Rensburg, managing director of Shoden Data Systems, the local distributor of Hitachi Data Systems.

According to HDS, the introduction of stricter e-mail management is also seen as key to minimising the storage costs associated with spiralling volumes of messages. A recent HDS survey found that e-mail messages, including attachments, can take up more than 40% of a company’s data storage capacity.

The survey also raises serious concerns over the length of time companies retain e-mail and IM data. Although emerging regulations stipulate that electronic communications are archived for anything up to eight years, fewer than one in five firms retain e-mail messages for more than three years.

Written by Computing SA staff


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