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Freeman warns against email deletion policy

Mar 06, 2015 6:25 am
Jimmy Vielkind is reporting at Capital New York automatically deleting email after 90 days could lead to the accidental disposal of important records, the head of New York's Committee on Open Government told Vielkind, as the Cuomo administration presses ahead with its controversial new policy. Robert J. Freeman said there should not be a fixed time governing when records are saved or discarded. He said, “...[M]y belief is the nature of the communication and its significance should determine how long it should be kept, and there likely should not be an arbitrary dividing line between retention and disposal." Freeman said he has not consulted with state legislators who are drafting bills that would establish a different retention schedule for various records or mandate their preservation for at least five years. The Cuomo administration last week fully implemented a policy of deleting any email not proactively saved for retention after 90 days. The result was a mass purge of messages from the inboxes of rank-and-file employees. The official state policy was adopted in June 2013, but gubernatorial administrations have been automatically purging their inboxes going back six years, aides to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo say. Official guidelines for employees say they should flag materials related to the awarding of state contracts or development of policies for further retention. Documents or emails that are subject to Freedom of Information Law requests are to be preserved, as are records placed on hold because of litigation. Freeman said, "Realistically,...let's face it: Mistakes are made. Sometimes if there is an automatic obliteration of records, we may lose materials that are indeed important, that have historical value, and again, there may be situations in which we cannot necessarily predict the significance of the record.” Read the full story at Capital New York.
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