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Emerging Compliance Challenges: DOJ and FTC Reinforce Business Communication Retention

Navigating the New Landscape of Compliance in Business Communications

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have recently emphasized the importance of retaining business communications, especially in the context of collaboration tools and ephemeral messaging apps. This development reflects the growing need for companies to adapt to evolving compliance requirements in a digital age.

DOJ and FTC Update on Preservation of Communications

The DOJ and FTC have updated the language in standard preservation letters, highlighting the importance of maintaining business communications during government investigations and litigation. This update specifically targets technologies like Microsoft Teams, Signal, and Slack, which can automatically delete communications and documents. These updates serve as a reminder of the longstanding obligation companies have to preserve materials during legal proceedings.

Impact on Collaboration Tools and Ephemeral Messaging Apps

The updated guidelines explicitly mention collaboration tools and ephemeral messaging apps, which are known for enabling the immediate and often irretrievable destruction of communications. The emphasis is on ensuring that responsive documents, including data from apps designed to hide evidence, are preserved and produced during investigations. Failure to do so may lead to serious legal consequences, including obstruction of justice charges.

Implications for Companies

Companies must now be more diligent in retaining documents created through these technologies, as they have often failed to do so adequately in the past. The updated language in the preservation letters serves as a clear directive to companies to properly manage and retain such communications. Non-compliance could result in civil spoliation sanctions from the FTC and even criminal prosecutions.

The Importance of Compliance in the Digital Era

This development underscores the importance of compliance in the digital era, where business communications are increasingly conducted through modern technologies. Companies need to stay informed about these changes and ensure that their compliance programs are robust enough to meet these evolving requirements.

For a more detailed understanding of these compliance updates and their implications, you can refer to the full articles on Compliance Week and the Federal Trade Commission.