A couple of days ago I wrote about centralized vs distributed archives and argued that a centralized government record digital archive should be seperate from the bureacracy and that storage and backup of e-government records should not in the private sector outside or a nations borders should be an component of a democracy’s check and balance system.
The wiping of the Gordon Campbell emails records from BC goverment backup tapes is an example why archiving of government records should be centralized outside of government, by an institution with a clear mandate to do so, why government records should not be on backup tapes in the care of a private sector company and why there should be clear accessioning procedures in place. It seems there is no provincial e-government records archive and backup tape data are disposed after 13 month. Albeit there is a rule that states
“Government records destruction schedules must be suspended during court orders for Demand for Discovery.” It also says: “Records disposition must be suspended during legally mandated reviews (e.g. litigation, document discovery and commissions of inquiry).”
director of Messaging and Collaboration Services, Workplace Technology Services (WTS), states that at the beginning of May of this year, her department requested that backup tapes of government e-mails created prior to May of 2004 be expunged from the system. The e-mails are the subject of a legal proceeding and as such should not have been deleted, according to the government’s own guidelines.
These records are not his to wipe, they belong to the citizens via something like a version of Crown Copyright. Government electronic records should be transfered to an archive on an ongoing basis and there should be laws against IT people wiping the records. And what of a private sector company having private information on tape?