Government Regulations and Compliance for Electronic Communications

Staying compliant with all the different State, Local, and Federal regulations can be a tricky task at best. And while each individual agency, geographic location,…

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Que Mangus

May 31, 20145 minute read

Staying compliant with all the different State, Local, and Federal regulations can be a tricky task at best. And while each individual agency, geographic location, etc. can have specific rules and regulations that are unique to that party, there are some definite best practices when dealing with archiving and retaining electronic communications.

Can I archive in the cloud or solely on premise? Is my retention policy for 6 months or 3 years? Do I have to archive every single e-mail that passes through my servers or only related communications to the transaction of public business? What about IM’s, tweets, and other social media postings by government employees?

Outlined below are some of the regulations that apply to State, Local and Federal Governments. Compliance with these regulations and guidelines will help your organization avoid fines, sanctions, and other penalties, as well as the risks involved with email and social media misuse.

Federal Government

  • 5 U.S.C. § 552, As Amended by Public Law No. 104-231, 110 Stat. 3048 (The Freedom of Information Act)
  • Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) Rule 34, Rule 26(b), and Rule35
  • Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)
  • NARA October 2010 Bulletin (Link)

State and Local Government

  • California Public Records Act (California Government Code Section 6250-6270) Florida 119.01 and Title XIX Chapter 286
  • Louisiana Title 44 Chapter 1 Part 1 (Louisiana Sunshine Law)
  • Massachusetts SPR Bulletin No. 1-99 states that all email created or received by an employee of a government unit is a public record
  • Missouri Public Records 610.010, 610.023, 610.024, 610.026
  • Ohio Public Records Act (Ohio Revised Code 149.43)
  • Oregon Public Records Laws
  • Washington Public Records Act
  • Wisconsin Public Records Law

Best Practices for Electronic Communications Compliance

Create communication policies (Email, Social, Mobile)

Regulations require that email communications must be retained, accessible, and secure. Time retained before being destroyed, type of messages that must be archived, and other variables are dependent to each specific government organization. But to be in compliance, you must establish archiving systems to retain electronic communications and assure that requested materials can be retrieved and presented in a timely manner in case of litigation, eDiscovery or other records requests.

Social Media
As social media use continues to become more prevalent, organizations need to be aware of the risks associated with this new form of communication. While compliance with government regulations are a major reason for monitoring and archiving social media interactions, below are a few additional risks to consider:

  • Productivity loss
  • Confidential data leakage
  • Liability from personal messages
  • Harassment and bullying
  • Discrimination
  • Inappropriate communication

Here you can find a sample policy to help guide your organization in implementing your own social media standards and guidelines.

Additional Resource- Best Practices for Social Media Management and Archiving- White paper

Mobile Devices
Mobile archiving is a relatively new concept for most organizations. Yet research has found that 33% of the typical information worker’s time is spent doing work on a mobile device.

We also found that 42% of work-related content is accessed via mobile devices, while 31% of content is created on mobile devices.

Organizations implementing electronic communication policies must include mobile archiving and discovery if they are to remain compliant with government regulations.

Enforce Communications Policies Via Available Technologies

Archiving Solution – Deploy an archiving solution that archives all electronic communications. This includes email, social media and mobile communications. By archiving, and letting your employees know that you are archiving, you will have the ability to check if policies are being fulfilled and your employees are more likely to comply with policies because they will know that you can verify. Furthermore, if there is an accusation or lawsuit, you can prove your employees either acted appropriately or present the evidence needed for the case. In other words, an archiving solution can help protect you and your employees.

Monitoring solution – Implement an electronic communication monitoring solution for email, mobile and social. A monitoring solution will help prevent inappropriate communications by monitoring and filtering what your employees communicate via email, post on social media and/or send via mobile devices. This proactive approach will help avoid the scandal before it ever occurs (see what happened to US Airways, and how they could have prevented it. GWAVA blog:Could the US Airways lewd tweet have been prevented? YES!).

While there are many single issue solutions to help you comply with one aspect of government regulations, GWAVA offers Retain Unified Archiving and GWAVA Messaging Security to fully monitor and securely archive all of your organization’s electronic communications. These solutions work in tandem to provide you with complete compliance and protection for your organization.

For more information about the need for archiving and monitoring or GWAVA solutions visit

Related Blog Posts:

Information above obtained from the Osterman Research White paper, “The Growing Need for Mobile Archiving” Published March 2014


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Que Mangus

Que Mangus manages the product marketing for OpenText host connectivity solutions. Que has 14+ years of experience in software solutions marketing and received ITIL version 3 Foundation Certification in 2010. Que graduated from Utah Valley University located in Orem, UT, USA with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management.

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