What will they think of next? Self destructing e-mail

Self Destructing Email

For the past few years, technology gurus have been developing software to allow an e-mail message to vanish or become unreadable after a certain length of time or upon the sender’s request.  There are two types of self destructing e-mail software.

The first type is retractable e-mail such as the Gmail Labs (the testing ground for Gmail features) “undo send” command which can be programmed to allow you 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds to retract a message.  This type of self-destructing e-mail allows you to to immediately retract messages sent in haste or to the wrong individuals provided you issue the retraction command within the time limit.  Retractable e-mail may not cause a lot of concern from the IM and e-discovery perspectives if it is used purely to correct errors.

The second type of self destructing e-mail, however, is likely to keep IM practitioners and lawyers awake at night because it can be used to circumvent official/corporate e-mail systems by providing an alternative means of communication which is difficult to track.  With this type self-destructing e-mail, the sender places a message on a secure website for a limited, pre-set time period and the recipient is notified by e-mail, text message or other means to visit the site to view the message.  Some of these applications provide the added security of allowing a message to be read only with a password.

A new entrant in this space is BurnNote whose advertising states, “Burn Note enables you to communicate online as privately as a spoken conversation”.   A Burn Note can be read only once by the recipient – once it has been read, it cannot be viewed again.  And, by default, each Burn Note has a timer after which time it will be automatically deleted.  The timer starts as soon as the recipient begins viewing the message.  But if the sender does not use a timer, the Burn Note will remain visible until the recipient manually deletes it or leaves the page.  Unread Burn Notes are automatically deleted after 72 hours.

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Note: Products/vendors are mentioned for illustration purposes only.  Their mention in IMpress blog posts do not constitute an endorsement by either the author or by Ergo Information Management Consulting.

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That's A Lot of Records!
Often the requirement for a needs assessment is driven by a specific initiative being considered or an immediate problem to be solved, rather than a general desire to establish a corporate (or organization-wide) IM program. We had a client wanting to improve its management of a specific group of critical records – thousands of member files in paper, microform and digital formats containing hundreds of unique document types.
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Ergo reviewed the organization’s current practices for managing those records, compared those practices to best practices, and identified risks and areas for improvement. From there we developed a strategic plan with a focus on records storage and retention. The plan identified the operational, financial and technological requirements for implementing the recommended changes, improvements and enhancements in the lifecycle management of the member records. Activities in the plan were classified as short term (next 6-12 months), medium term (next 12-24 months) and longer term (next 25+ months).
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Implementation of the strategic plan enabled this organization to ensure its member records are properly identified, organized, accessible, protected and retained as long as necessary to meet operational and other requirements.
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