Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Web 2.0 vs. the lawyers

The threat of litigation is as strong as ever. And yet, I still find executives who demand an exception to reasonable email archival and purging policies. In their minds, these policies make good business sense and should be followed by everyone else. But for them, it's imperative that they hang on to those emails from 5 and 10 years ago. Even the headlines of old messages coming back to haunt even the most sophisticated of firms doesn't seem to deter them.

And as if this wasn't enough, we now have the amazing new capabilities represented by Web 2.0 to keep corporate counsel up at nights. Rogue blogs, archived instant messaging, unmoderated wiki's and even social networks are ripe for discovery.

Even though each of these pose a litigation-related risk, they are still worthwhile for the growing firm. But the rules need to catch up to the technology... again. Retention policies need to be written and applied to blogs and messages. Wiki's need rules to govern their use even inside the firewall. And Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and the host of competing social networking sites need to be accounted for in HR policies. Some areas to think about include...
Explicit mention of those tools in anti-defamation clauses
Usage during business hours and from the corporate network
Customer and Vendor contact

Have you thought about these issues?
Do you have a handle on the impact of an event using any of these tools?

A few hours and a few dollars now is a worthy investment for any firm that wants to be big enough to be someone's target.

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