Of Emails and Archived Web Pages
We have noticed that an increasing number of Dan Brown's web pages -- which had been archived on this site -- have gone missing. It is always possible that selected pages could be missing due to technical reasons.
Missing web pages weaken the historical record and make it harder for journalists and others to see what a given page actually said at a specific time in the past.
This destruction of digital documentation also handicaps the ability investigators to gather evidence and makes it difficult to impossible to compare digital documentation delivered to investigators with a disinterested and independent third party in order to confirm that a digital document is accurate as represented.
Courts increasingly are taking action against companies which destroy electronic documents as Morgan Stanley recenty found out. The following excerpt illustrates what can happen.
Morgan Stanley case highlights e-mail perils
Fri May 20, 2005
By Michael Christie
MIAMI (Reuters) - The $1.45 billion judgement against Morgan Stanley for deceiving billionaire Ronald Perelman over a business deal has a lesson all companies should learn -- keeping e-mails is now a must, experts say.
Banks and broker-dealers are obliged to retain e-mail and instant messaging documents for three years under U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rules. But similar requirements will apply to all public companies from July 2006 under the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reform measures.
At the same time, U.S. courts are imposing increasingly harsh punishments on corporations that fail to comply with orders to produce e-mail documents, the experts said.
Where judges once were more likely to accept that incompetence or computer problems might be to blame, they are now apt to rule that noncompliance is an indication a company has something to hide.
"Morgan Stanley is going to be a harbinger," said Bill Lyons, chief executive officer of AXS-One Inc. (AXO.A: Quote, Profile, Research), a provider of records retention software systems.
"I think general counsels around the world are going to look at this as a legal Chernobyl."
Clearly the destruction of potential evidence is serious regardless of whether it is in the form of an email or web page. As I said at the beginning, there could be some innocent technical explanation for the missing pages. But I find it odd that some that were available a month ago are no longer there. Fortunately I made my own archive copies.