E-mail archiving: obligation or freestyle? (part 2)

E-mail archiving: obligation or freestyle?

Part Two: Reasons for Email Archiving

The most important thing right away. With the retention regulations of Swiss commercial law in force since 1.1.2013 , there are no longer any legal requirements in Switzerland for the general retention of business correspondence! Business correspondence has therefore disappeared from the retention catalog. This means that the general legal obligation to archive e-mails no longer applies, provided that it is business correspondence without any informational value for bookkeeping and accounting. However, in addition to the retention requirements of Swiss commercial law, there may be other industry-specific rules that may make it necessary to archive e-mails. In addition, business policy considerations can also lead to e-mails being archived without any legal obligations.

Such reasons can be very diverse, such as for example

  • the review of corporate compliance,
  • the support of business processes,
  • the traceability of negotiations,
  • the safeguarding of agreements,
  • ensuring the company-wide information capital.

The blessing of email benefits can also very quickly become a curse. E-mail is increasingly becoming the sole carrier of content, not just a means of communication. Entire business processes are now handled by e-mail. Under certain circumstances, they may also contain supporting documents for bookkeeping and accounting, which can only be found in the e-mail. Such documents can then later only be found in the e-mail and no longer in the archive provided for this purpose.

The reasons for archiving e-mails can therefore be many and varied, despite the fact that the legal requirement no longer applies. However, these reasons must be explicitly weighed against the resulting obligations. The costs and risks of maintaining an e-mail archive and the resulting current and future obligations can very quickly outweigh the original benefits. This does not only mean the costs for the technical maintenance of the e-mail archiving such as storage, license and maintenance. With the Europe-wide strengthening of data protection, the requirements for an e-mail archive are also significantly increased. A data subject’s unrestricted right to information is only one such requirement. The fulfillment of all requirements from the current and future planned data protection must therefore be taken into account from the outset when considering an e-mail archive solution. The relatively simple (mostly technically driven) implementation of an email archive solution can thus very quickly collide with the very high requirements of data protection!

To be continued

Daniel Spichty


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