What Companies Need to Know About Data Retention

By Holly Gilbert

In the era of big data, knowing what information to get rid of—a practice called proactive disposition—is just as important as knowing what to keep. But the tendency in many workplaces is to keep everything. In an October 2012 study on data retention by Cohasset Associates, Inc., a management consulting firm, more than 90 percent of respondents said areas of their companies had a “fear” of deleting information, and as a result, they tended to “over retain” or “hoard” data.

Deletion anxiety is not unfounded. In 2006, under amended Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, electronically stored information (ESI), such as e-mail, was deemed discoverable in civil litigation, which means opposing parties must disclose all the relevant electronic information the other team requests in e-discovery. If they are found to have deleted relevant information, it may hurt their case or result in fines or, in some circumstances, criminal charges. That factor has made companies reluctant to throw out files.

“We’re afraid to let go. We’re afraid to delete,” says Carol Stainbrook, executive director of the consulting practice at Cohasset Associates, who helps companies develop information management policies.

Click here to continue reading Security Management's June TechnoFile department, which includes one executive's account of how her company implemented a proactive disposition policy.

Flickr photo by kubischta


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