Email retention laws in the United States require businesses to keep copies of emails for many years. There are federal laws applying to all businesses and organizations, data retention laws for specific industries, and a swathe of email retention laws in the United States at the individual state level. Ensuring compliance with all the appropriate email retention laws in the United States is essential. Non-compliance can prove incredibly costly. Multi-million-dollar fines await any organization found to have breached federal, industry, or state regulations.
All electronic documents must be retained by U.S organizations, which extends to email, in case the information is required by the courts. eDiscovery requests often require large volumes of data to be provided for use in lawsuits and the failure to provide the data can land an organization in serious trouble. Not only are heavy fines issued, organizations can face criminal proceedings if certain data are deleted.
For decades, U.S organizations have been required to store documents. Document retention laws are included in numerous legislative acts such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Executive Order 11246 of 1965, the Freedom of Information Act of 1967, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and the Reform and Control Act of 1986 to name but a few; however, just over a decade ago, data retention laws in the United States were updated to expand the definition of documents to include electronic communications such as emails and email attachments.
To improve awareness of the many different email retention laws in the United States, a summary has been detailed below. Please bear in mind that this is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice on data retention laws in the United States, we recommend you consult your legal representatives. Industry and federal electronic data and email retention laws in the United States are also subject to change. Up to date information should be obtained from your legal team.
What are the Different Email Retention Laws in the United States?
As you can see from the list below, there are several federal and industry-specific email retention laws in the United States. These laws apply to emails received and sent, and include internal as well as external emails.
|Email retention law||Who it applies to||How long emails must be stored|
|IRS Regulations||All companies||7 Years|
|Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)||Federal, state, and local agencies||3 Years|
|Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX)||All public companies||7 Years|
|Department of Defense (DOD) Regulations||DOD contractors||3 Years|
|Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Regulations||Telecommunications companies||2 Years|
|Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Regulations||Banks||5 Years|
|Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Regulations||Pharmaceutical firms, food manufacturers, food storage and distribution firms, manufacturers of biological products||Minimum of 5 years rising to 35 years|
|Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act||Banks and Financial Institutions||7 Years|
|Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)||Healthcare organizations (Healthcare providers, health insurers, healthcare clearinghouses and business associates of covered entities)||7 Years|
|Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)||Credit card companies and credit card processing organizations||1 Year|
|Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Regulations||Investment banks, investment advisors, brokers, dealers, insurance agents & securities firms||Minimum of 7 years up to a lifetime|
Email retention laws in the United States that are applied by each of the 50 states are beyond the scope of this article. There area also European laws, such as the GDPR email requirements.
What is the Best Way to Store Old Emails?
Storing emails for a few years is not likely to require masses of storage for a small business with a couple of members of staff. However, the more employees an organization has, the greater the need for extensive resources just to store emails. The average size of a business email may only be 10KB, but multiply that by 123 – the average number of emails sent and received each day by an average business user in 2016 (Radicati email statistics report 2015-2019), and by 365 days in each year, and by the number of years that those emails need to be stored, and the storage requirements become considerable.
If any emails ever need to be accessed, it is essential that any email archive or backup can be searched. In the case of standard backups, that is likely to be an incredibly time consuming process. Backups are not designed to be searched. Finding the right backup alone can be almost impossible, let along finding all emails sent to, or received from, a specific company or individual. Backups have their uses, but are not suitable for businesses for email retention purposes.
For that, an email archive is required. Email archives contain structured email data that can easily be searched. If ever an eDiscovery order is received, finding all email correspondence is a quick and easy task. Since many email archives are cloud based, they also do not require huge storage resources. Emails are stored in the cloud, with the space provided by the service provider.
ArcTitan: TitanHQ’s Cost Effective and Convenient Email Archiving Solution
ArcTitan is a cost-effective, fast and easy-to-manage email archiving solution provided by TitanHQ that meets the needs of all businesses and enables them to comply with all email retention laws in the United States.
ArcTitan incorporates a range of security protections to ensure stored data is kept 100% secure and confidential, with email data encrypted in transit and storage. In contrast to many email archiving solutions, ArcTitan is fast. The solution can process 200 emails per second from your email server and archived emails can be retrieved instantly via a browser or Outlook (using a plugin). Emails can be archived from any location, whether in the office or on the go via a laptop or tablet. There are no limits on storage space or the number of users. The solution can be scaled up to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes.
To find out more about ArcTitan and how it can benefit your business, contact the TitanHQ team today and kiss goodbye to all your email storage headaches.