Software providers are making big money building apps that make sure that your electronic messages self-destruct. The first of these, like Snapchat, were aimed at the consumer market and helped to make embarrassing selfies less risky. More recent entries, such as Cyber Dust, take aim at the business market, and even tout the money saving benefits of ensuring that nothing sent or received on their service is discoverable.
In a recent piece in the New York Law Journal, Peter Isajiw and Anthony Del Giudice provide a well-balanced assessment of the legal implications of business messages that auto-destruct (see article: http://tinyurl.com/Self-Destructing-Messages). Is this a good business practice designed to keep information confidential, or it is instead a ruse to avoid scrutiny? That question will turn on the facts of each case. Ultimately, Isajiw and Del Giudice conclude that this is yet another technology with which lawyers had better get familiar.
We see another side to the story. Corporate information is being accumulated faster than it can be managed. Many employees feel the need to keep their “own” copies of important documents and messages to have them easily accessible. This information is unmanaged, and often under-protected, which creates an enormous cyber-security risk. If your organization is infiltrated or exfiltrated, and those records taken, you will likely not even know what has been lost.
E-mail has become more of a curse than a blessing, and is a leading cause of corporate information bloat. We urge our Canadian clients to be information lean – and support defensible deletion as part of a robust information governance strategy. Whether it is self-destructing messages, or another more traditional information governance approach, anything that reduces your information risk is a good thing. Just make sure that what you are doing is both reasonable and legally defensible.