Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories

3.2 Email and other digital correspondence

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 The sheer volume of sent, received, and saved email messages, as well as the presence of attachments in many different file formats, can complicate email acquisition. In addition, born-digital correspondence may include letters written with word-processing software and sent either as attachments to email messages or printed and sent in physical form. These documents can present complications similar to those encountered in email archives.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 1 Donors may want to screen email files for sensitive and/or extraneous messages prior to transfer. Repositories and donors will need to make clear by whom, and the process by which, this screening will be done. If a donor is not able or willing to screen for sensitive messages, the repository will need to make a decision, in accordance with policy, regarding whether and to what extent to devote staff time to searching for information above and beyond what a repository is required by law to restrict. If a repository decides to undertake detailed screening for sensitive materials as defined by a particular acquisition agreement, strategies for screening may be necessarily limited by staff resources. In some situations, access restrictions or an embargo period on the use of email can be implemented as a means of lowering risk when it is not feasible for staff to undertake screening. As with paper materials, it helps when donors can flag potential areas of concern in digital materials so that staff can lower the risk around those more easily. Preservation for access in the longer-term is also a reasonable option and for many repositories may be the most realistic alternative to screening.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Donors, dealers, and repositories need to collaborate with each other and discuss how to handle sensitive messages or message threads. If a repository discovers obviously sensitive messages not identified as such or removed by the donor, and the donor or intellectual property holder is no longer available, a decision will need to be made regarding whether to make the messages available, remove them, or retain them with a restriction on their access. In many repositories, the amount of labor required to screen email messages may prompt repository staff to explore alternatives such as embargo, or restricting access to materials for a certain period of time, when staff resources are limited.

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Source: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/borndigital/privacy-and-intellectual-property/email-and-other-digital-correspondence/