Netmail Blog

In Response to the IRS' Lost Emails

Posted by Richard Brunette

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Jun 25, 2014 1:50:50 PM

Last night the Daily Show with Jon Stewart ran a story about an email recovery scandal, what we in the industry call “ediscovery”. If you haven’t seen the segment, you can view it here:

I’d like to offer our take on this as a company whose sole area of focus is email. For 13 years, it’s all we’ve done, so if you don’t mind, we’ll call ourselves experts. We help large institutions accurately capture and duplicate their emails, store them securely and search through them. One of our tag lines states that we’ll help you find the emails relevant to your search in 60 seconds or less, roughly the amount of time it would take Nicolas Cage to steal your car. And it works.

But enough about us, this isn’t about us, it’s about email. Email has become the dominant business record for organizations. Every year, more and more disputes are being settled by way of email evidence. To treat your email records with impunity is to say you don’t care about your business records.  

Let’s talk about how email works. The IRS thinks it is fooling people by saying that Lois Lerner’s hard drive crashed, therefore the emails are lost. This left me and any email administrator scratching our collective heads. Email isn’t stored on an individual’s hard drive, it’s stored on the organization’s email server. That is unless the organization allows their users to pull them off and store them in personal archives, which is just terrible policy. This is a policy of an organization that doesn’t value its records and almost has to be intentionally malicious.

So let us assume that the IRS allows this to happen and this is actually true. Email is a 2-way street. It’s a send/receive world. Copies of these emails should still exist on the other end. Whoever sent those emails to, or received emails from, Lerner has copies of those emails in their inboxes and outboxes. This is what makes email evidence so hard to destroy. This is what makes their story so hard to buy.  

IRS, just shoot me an email, I promise not to lose it. We’ll get you set up in no time. We’ll help you find those missing emails. We can even set you up with one of the country’s top email lawyers who will give you a crash course on implementing a proper email policy and how to enforce it.

But surely I jest. I don’t actually think I’m teaching the IRS anything new here. It’s just time that this excuse goes away. In this day and age, there is no reason an email should be lost. There is no reason why there should be a delay in producing emails as evidence. The software that accomplishes these searches costs a fraction of the price of hiring lawyers to comb through emails manually.

So please, I implore you, stop using this excuse. I would like to officially state here that this excuse is dead. Here in 2014, there is no excuse not to produce the emails.

Topics: Email Management, eDiscovery


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