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Feds Warn Companies to Not Delete Slack Chats

Regulatory Guidelines | Jan 29, 2024

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Image: Unsplash/Sara Kurfeß

FTC and DOJ Issue Updated Guidelines on Retaining Business Communications on Modern Digital Platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Signal

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) have revised their guidelines to ensure businesses retain communications made through modern digital collaboration tools and messaging apps. This update responds to the growing use of platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Signal, which often include features for automatic data deletion. Past instances reveal that businesses have struggled to maintain records of communications via these digital platforms, prompting this stricter regulatory stance.

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  • The revised guidance covers various legal processes, including subpoenas and voluntary requests, emphasizing the importance of keeping relevant digital communications during investigations and legal proceedings.
  • The focus is on messaging applications and collaboration tools that may automatically delete messages, highlighting the responsibility of businesses to retain these communications.
  • Non-compliance, such as failing to keep or produce necessary documents, could lead to legal consequences, including charges of obstructing justice.  The FTC has enforced penalties in previous cases where digital communication concealment methods were used, underscoring the seriousness of these updated requirements.

Why It Matters

The new guidelines serve as a reminder of the legal requirements to maintain digital communications, particularly on platforms with automatic message deletion features. This shift reflects the changing landscape of workplace communication and the need for laws and regulations to keep pace.

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For businesses, this translates to a greater emphasis on compliance and understanding the legal risks associated with non-adherence to these retention guidelines. Companies must now ensure that their strategies for maintaining digital records are comprehensive, covering a range of communication tools including those with auto-delete features​


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