E-Mail, IM Archiving Faces Rising Regulatory Demands

By Dennis Callaghan  |  Posted 2002-08-12

Technology and service providers are rolling out offerings to help financial services companies and other businesses cope with growing regulatory demands for storing communications such as e-mail and instant messages.

EMC Corp. last week announced a partnership with e-mail server developer Critical Path Inc. that calls for the companies to jointly market and sell messaging and storage solutions to carriers and enterprises. EMC, of Hopkinton, Mass., has similar agreements with Openwave Inc. and Comverse Technology Inc. and plans deals with other messaging vendors, officials said.

Separately, IBMs Lotus division, in Cambridge, Mass., this month released Version 3.5 of its Domino.doc document management software, which supports the archiving of Lotus Notes e-mail. Instant messaging archiving support will likely be extended to Domino.doc and IBM Content Manager CommonStore for Lotus Domino, which currently handle only e-mail archiving, said officials, who wouldnt say when that support would be added.

Taking another tack is services company Zantaz Inc., which launched the latest version of its Digital Safe archiving, data restoration and content management service in June. The Pleasanton, Calif., company is developing technology to expand the service with e-mail monitoring, surveillance and investigative/electronic discovery support beginning this quarter, said officials.

The pressure to deploy such software or services is increasing as the Securities and Exchange Commission reportedly is set to level $10 million in fines against six Wall Street companies for not adequately retaining employees e-mail. The fines are expected to be levied for not keeping e-mail long enough or taking too long to hand them to regulators.

However, storing messages isnt enough to cope with the regulatory burden, according to an IT manager at one financial services company, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Its more than just keeping an archive," said the IT manager. "You also need to make the messages easy to maintain and easily accessible from a full restoration from tape. Its definitely an ongoing concern."

The IT manager said his company wants to contract with Zantaz so it can stream all e-mail and instant messages to an external service provider as they are received to prevent messages from being altered.

There are no government regulations yet that cover IM logs, according to Pamela Housley, director of compliance at merchant banker Thomas Weisel Partners LLC. But the San Francisco company isnt taking any chances. It uses FaceTime Communications Inc.s IM Director program in combination with SRA International Inc.s Assentor application to store and monitor instant messages.

"A lot of people think instant messaging is like a telephone call and isnt covered by these regulations," said Housley. "But our position is that its written, it needs to be archived and reviewed. Its probably only a matter of time before the SEC requires that."

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