What You Need to Understand About Email Compliance

Though most business owners know they need to archive emails for compliance reasons, many don’t understand what email compliance entails or how to go about it.

If you’re interested in learning how to manage email compliance, this blog post is a great starting point. We’ll cover:

  • what is email compliance
  • What happens in cases of non-compliance?
  • Various industries have different email archiving compliance regulations.
  • If you don’t archive your email, what will happen?
  • FAQ
  • 5 ways to make sure your email is complying
  • A checklist to improve email compliance and data privacy

What Is Compliance Legislation?

Depending on the business context, compliance can refer to following government-, state- or industry-mandated rules and regulations; adhering to international standards; or sticking to your company’s internal policies.

This article focuses on the compliance laws and regulations surrounding the retention of electronic records, like email.

In recent years, an increasing number of US federal laws now take into account electronically stored information (for example job application, workplace fairness, safety, regulations set by the IRS, Freedom of Information Act, etc.).

In other words, compliance legislation is a set of legal rules that establish how businesses protect and save data.

Several compliance laws exist that necessitate the retention of electronically stored information and communications data for a certain period (usually 7 years). At the same time, these businesses must follow specific levels of data security.

In other words, this data (including emails) should be kept safe from prying eyes​ and also stored for a specific length of time before it can be deleted, just in case it’s needed for any legal proceedings.

Archiving Email for Compliance

Archiving emails for compliance is important because of the sheer amount of data generated on a daily basis. Without archiving, businesses cannot store all the data they need to keep track of or comply with regulations.

Archiving emails can also help improve business efficiency, as having organized and easily accessible files make it easier to find information quickly. It can also help prevent data loss or corruption.

Email archiving solutions vary in complexity and cost, but most of them have the same basic components:

• A storage system designed to securely store emails for an extended period of time.

• Indexing and searching capabilities that allow users to quickly find the information they need.

• Security measures like encryption and access control to protect data from unauthorized use.

• An alert system that informs administrators when an email is deleted or altered in any way.

• A compliance audit log that records all activity on the system, including when emails are accessed and by whom.

What Happens in Cases of Non-Compliance?

If a business fails to comply with email compliance legislation, they risk penalties such as fines or even criminal charges. Companies must also take into account the potential damage to their reputation if customers find out that their data has been mishandled or compromised.

In addition, non-compliance can lead to legal action from government bodies, competitors, or other parties who are affected by the lack of compliance. For example, if a company fails to keep customer data secure and private, it may be sued for breach of contract or negligence.

How Email Can Cause Compliance Issues

Failing to maintain email compliance can have serious consequences for businesses. Not only can non-compliance lead to litigation or fines, but it also leaves your business open to data breaches. In addition, lack of compliance can damage your reputation if customers feel that their data isn’t being protected adequately.

To avoid these issues, it’s important to understand how email can cause compliance problems. First, it is important to ensure that emails are not sent or received with sensitive information. Emails should also be monitored and stored in a secure archiving system that meets all necessary requirements. Additionally, email policies should be established so employees know how to handle confidential information. Finally, any legal requests for data should be responded to quickly and thoroughly.

Email Compliance Laws and Regulatory Bodies

There are a number of regulatory bodies that have specific requirements for businesses handling email. This includes the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which requires brokers to keep emails related to business transactions for up to six years; and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which specifies how healthcare providers must maintain patient data confidentiality. The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has also issued specific rules on email retention, in particular with regard to insider trading.

If you want to learn more about the record-keeping requirements for K12 schools, universities, and government agencies, take a look at our compliance checklists.

Your Email Management Policy: What Does It Need to Include?

Your email management policy should clearly define how emails are stored, accessed, and deleted. It should also include guidelines for archiving emails, as well as information about who is responsible for keeping records secure. Be sure to include details on when and how to delete emails (including any backups) after they have been archived.

It’s also important to include information about who has access to emails and what kind of security measures are in place, as well as any restrictions that are placed on sharing or forwarding emails. Finally, make sure to specify the procedures for responding to legal requests for archived emails.

By following these guidelines, you can create an email archiving plan that will help ensure your organization’s compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.


To ensure that your email management policy is effective, it’s important to review the policy on a regular basis and make changes as needed to reflect any new or changing regulations. It’s also important to educate your staff about the importance of following the guidelines outlined in the policy in order to ensure compliance. Finally, you should consider investing in an email archiving system that can help you maintain records and monitor activity in accordance with your policy.


With the right policies, procedures, and software in place, you can ensure that your business is compliant with email management regulations—and protected from the risks associated with non-compliance.

Technology solutions to email compliance challenges.

To help law firms comply with email compliance regulations, there are a number of technology solutions available. These include software applications that allow businesses to monitor and archive emails in accordance with their policy. Additionally, these tools can automate the process of deleting emails when they are no longer needed or required by law.

Organizations can also use encryption technology to protect sensitive emails from being accessed by unauthorized parties. Finally, businesses can take advantage of cloud-based storage solutions that allow them to store emails offsite and securely access them when needed.

By leveraging the right technology solutions, organizations can ensure compliance with email management laws and regulations—while also protecting their data and reputation.

Five Simple Steps to Email Compliance

Make sure your policy clearly outlines the procedures for storing, accessing, and deleting emails and other records.

Educate your staff on the policy: Ensure that all employees are aware of the rules outlined in the email management policy so they can adhere to them.

When it comes to archiving your data, be sure to take your time and compare various vendors, plans, and features. And don't forget to back up your data in multiple locations - you never know when disaster might strike.


Follow industry trends: Your company's email and other unstructured data are not secure if you only lock the door to the server room. Your security software needs to be kept up-to-date by both management and your IT team in order to stay safe, which includes following trends and reviewing industry changes.

For example, although the majority of US companies in regulated occupations archive email, only 2 to 20 percent archive social media. However, this does not reflect current compliance laws that have been edited to include alternative electronic channels (social media, mobile content, video...) into what can be classified as a business record.

Regularly review your email management policy to make sure it remains up-to-date with any changes in regulations.

Email Archiving Is the Key to Compliance

Email archiving is the key to compliance. By storing, organizing and managing your emails—along with attachments, notes, calendars and other electronic documents—you can ensure that all of your records are secure and easily accessible when needed. An email archiving system will also help you identify any potential risks associated with non-compliance in a timely manner.

With the right email archiving solution, your business can quickly and easily comply with email compliance laws and regulations—while also protecting your company from any potential risks. It is important to review the features of each solution so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. Ultimately, investing in a reliable email archiving system will help ensure your team remains compliant with the law.

Compliance Archiving System

When selecting an archiving system to ensure compliance, it’s important to consider the different features offered. First and foremost, make sure that your system meets all necessary regulations for data storage and retention. Additionally, you should consider other features such as search functionality, disaster recovery capabilities, automated backups, and the ability to filter for specific time frames and content types.

Finally, it’s important to pay attention to customer support when selecting an archiving system. Having dedicated customer service professionals available to answer questions can be invaluable. By choosing a vendor that provides reliable support, you can ensure your compliance needs are met quickly and efficiently.

Email Compliance Checklist

When developing an email compliance policy, there are many steps to consider. Here is a checklist of items that should be included in your organization’s approach to email compliance:

1. Establish and communicate an email compliance policy within the workplace.

2. Invest in secure data archiving technology that meets all necessary requirements.

3. Create secure procedures for securing, transmitting, and storing data.

4. Train personnel on security protocols to avoid data breaches or violations of compliance regulations

5. Monitor email activity regularly to detect any irregularities that may indicate a breach in security or non-compliance with regulations.

6. Update employees on any changes to compliance laws or regulations.

7. Review the email archiving system regularly to make sure it is up-to-date with any changes in regulations.

8. Investigate potential breaches of security or non-compliance quickly and thoroughly.

9. Establish procedures for responding to requests for data from legal entities, such as the government or other organizations.

By following this checklist, your organization can ensure email compliance and protect itself from any potential risks. Additionally, investing in the right technology solutions can help streamline the process of ensuring compliance—so you can focus on protecting your data and reputation.