ew corporate accountability rules are forcing companies to take a tougher approach to recording and monitoring staff e-mails and instant messaging, according to a survey.
The survey of large and medium-size organizations across Europe, Israel and South Africa found that more than half of firms (56 per cent) now routinely monitor employees’ e-mail messages, while even more (61 per cent) centrally archive all e-mails.
At the same time, more than a third of companies (36 per cent) actively monitor instant messaging communications, and the vast majority (68 per cent) have put in place explicit staff guidelines for both e-mail and instant messaging (IM) usage.
survey was commissioned by Hitachi Data Systems. In a press release, the company said, “while such measures may be unpopular among workers with more dubious e-mail and IM habits, the introduction of new corporate accountability regulations, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley act, have led many companies to review their electronic communications policies. This is particularly true in heavily regulated industries such as financial services, where companies face severe penalties for failing to comply with communications auditing requirements.”
Proportion of companies routinely monitoring staff communications
|Country||E-mail (%||IM (%)|
The study also highlighted the substantial variations between companies and across different regions.
For example, among those companies that do not currently monitor e-mail or IM usage, some 60 per cent were unable to say when they would be in a position to do so. In some countries, the number of companies recording and monitoring staff communications is less than half that reported in other countries.
The survey also raises concerns over the length of time companies retain e-mail and IM data, according to Hitachi Data Systems. Although emerging regulations stipulate that electronic communications are archived for anything up to eight years, fewer than one in five firms (18 per cent) currently retain e-mail messages for more than three years.
|Proportion of companies routinely archiving staff communications|
| ||E-mail (%)||Instant messaging (IM) (%)|
|Country||For less than 3 years||For more than 3 years||For less than 3 years||For more than 3 years|
The survey was conducted as part of the
Hitachi Data Systems Storage Index
, an independently conducted study commissioned and owned by Hitachi Data Systems. Findings are based on 690 anonymous interviews with IT directors throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Participants hailed from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.
Hitachi Data Systems is a developer of electronic storage solutions based in Santa Clara, Calif. It is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Hitachi, Ltd.