Understanding Regulations for Achieving Email Archiving Compliance

AnubisNetworks By AnubisNetworks • December 11, 2023

The law requires companies to archive business emails, so here's a look at the the laws you should be concerned about.

Each day, organizations communicate essential and confidential business decisions and agreements via email. Because these exchanges qualify as valid business interactions, the law requires companies to archive business emails. Therefore, if your company is not complying with email regulations, you may be subject to legal penalties and severe fines. Here’s a look at the email archiving laws you should be concerned about:

The Laws Mandating Email Data Archiving

In December 2006, the courts amended Title V, Rule 26 to include a provision outlining that companies must maintain electronically stored information (ESI). The email archiving regulations require organizations to have the ability to search and retrieve the archived emails when it is necessary, such as a court order and other legal proceedings.

The email archiving requirements for the minimum length of time it must be stored vary by state and industry. In some scenarios, this could mean keeping the data indefinitely. Some sectors like healthcare, financial, and public companies stipulate retention periods lasting seven years. For the government and education industry, the Freedom of Information Act requires a retention period of three years, while credit card companies only need to store email data for a year.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) also has legal requirements about email archiving. Therefore, companies that collect and process data from EU clients should comply with GDPR data archiving, access, and retrieval regulations. Another legal requirement of GDPR is that it must comply within 30 days if an EU citizen requests access to their data.

Implementing an Email Retention Policy to Comply with Email Archiving Requirements

Failing to achieve email archiving compliance exposes organizations to regulatory issues and can damage their reputation and effectiveness. Therefore, companies should enforce an email retention policy (ERP) which defines the organization’s procedure for how long it should keep archived emails before deleting them.

Effective email retention policies should be guided by factors such as regulatory compliance, legal discovery, knowledge management, and retention timespans. Some best practices for developing an effective and compliant email retention policy include analyzing relevant retention regulations and requirements, implementing a high-quality email archiving solution, and proactively training employees. The workforce should be educated on why the ERP exists and the importance of maintaining proper business communications.   

Email Archiving Solutions

Email archiving solutions capture and index emails, archiving the data and making it searchable and retrievable when needed. How the data is stored is also specific to the company’s situation and may include various deployment methods, including cloud-based solutions, on-premise hardware solutions, or hybrid solutions. In meeting the requirements and achieving compliance, these solutions must be secure and tamper-proof so as to maintain the integrity of the data.

It may be impractical to maintain email data on mail servers, particularly since mailboxes have storage quotas, and filling them can burden the network. However, email systems and archiving systems can be fortified with sophisticated anti-fraud, DLP, anti-spoofing, and malware analysis.  Therefore, it’s crucial to implement a reliable email archiving solution that works autonomously from the email server and as a reliable backup system and protection from threats.  

If your company does not comply with email archiving regulations, you may be subject to legal penalties and severe fines. Email archiving helps your company achieve compliance and helps it gain instant email visibility and protection against data loss.