Who is the Email and Messaging Retention Working Group (EMRWG)?
For the past couple of years, I have had the honour of chairing the Email and Messaging Retention Working Group. This group is a cross-campus, multi-discipline collaboration, researching and making recommendations on automated destruction for Instant Messaging (Chat) in MS Teams and transitory information in FASMail.
What problem is the EMRWG trying to solve?
The EMRWG seeks to reduce risk and digital clutter by automating destruction within systems starting with transitory records, while at the same time, keeping mindful of the important archival records that may be found in systems such as email. In 2020-2021 we had two key targets:
- Instant Messaging (Chat) in MS Teams
- Default transitory folders in FASMail (Deleted Items, Junk, RSS Feeds)
Instant messaging in MS Teams (Chat)
Instant Messaging (IM) applications have become increasingly essential to our daily work. For a quick answer to a routine question many of us would rather message colleagues, as opposed to sending an email, or picking up the phone. While messaging may soon replace a phone call or email for routine communication, we don’t tend to consider the amount of data IM systems collect which then has to be maintained by IT-Services. Earlier this year, before MS Teams was rolled out broadly to the campus community, the EMRWG had a narrow window to implement an automated IM deletion policy for IM (Chat) in Teams without causing much disruption for users of MS Teams. We jumped on the opportunity! The Policy was approved by University Archives and Legal Counsel in December 2020 and its implementation announced by UBC-IT April 30th, 2021.
Default transitory folders in FASMail
Email overload is a serious problem at UBC. While having tools such as Instant Messaging helps to reduce email bulk, the Records Management Office is sometimes contacted by staff who, over the course of a multi-decade career, have never emptied their Deleted Items folder in FASMail! An automated deletion policy on default transitory folders such as Deleted Items, Junk and RSS Feeds will help staff lighten their email load, it reduces risk, and saves the university money in IT maintenance and back-ups. The policy on transitory default email folders was approved at the same time as the IM policy discussed above. UBC-IT’s intention to implement the policy was announced August 16th, 2021 and will be implemented October 4th, 2021.
What’s next for EMRWG?
The EMRWG will deliver an update report to the Records Management Steering Committee in Fall of 2021 for discussion and next steps.
Barbara Towell (Chair), E-Records Manager, Records Management Office, University Archives; Scott Baker, Manager Sensitive Research Advanced Research Computing; Mark Belsito, Manager, Operations Communication and Collaboration Services UBC-IT; Moyra Ditchfield, Director of IT, Faculty of Science; David Johnson, Client Services Manager, Engagement Services; Paul Hancock, Legal Counsel, Information and Privacy; Michael Stewart, Project Records Manager, Okanagan Library; Christian Stockman, Information and Security Risk Advisor, Safety and Risk Services; Tammy Yasrobi, Senior Manager, Learning Applications, UBC Learning Technology Hub. Exiting member: Paige Hohmann, Archivist, Okanagan Library.