Email Policy- The Culprit Behind New Jersey’s Traffic Jam

For four days in mid- September, two lanes were shut down on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge;

Sarah Vouga – Waterford Technologies

a common route spanning the Hudson River that many use to go back and forth between New Jersey and New York. email policyTraffic jams delayed school buses, business people and first responders because, according to the Port Authority, a “traffic study” was being conducted. Rumors began flying. Whispers echoed throughout the United States that the traffic jam was caused by New Jersey’s Mayor, Chris Christie; maybe this was a political slap in the face for Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who endorsed Gov. Chris Christie’s opponent in the 2013 gubernatorial campaign. Enter: The Freedom of Information Act. As news outlets and New Jersey Democrats dug deeper into the circumstances of the bridge incident, they eventually connected the lane closures to two Port Authority officials with close ties to Christie: Bill Baroni, the deputy executive director of the agency, and David Wildstein, its director of interstate capital projects. Political scandal soon became fact rather than an educated guess that border-lined conspiracy theory.

“It’s the cover-up, not the crime.” Unfortunately for Americans, this seems to sum up the majority of political scandals that have tarnished our government; from Watergate to the Iran Contra Affair, even the Clinton/Lewminsky…situation. But the major question that continues to be ignored centres around email policies. Does the government even have an email policy for their employees? Are government employees aware it exists? It would seem to indicate that if they were aware of such policy, that it’s more of a guideline than an obligation to follow the higher up the food chain you progress in your career. Would we see as much scandal and outright debauchery if government officials, no matter what their position is, were forced to follow the mandatedemail policy email policies that majority of corporate America is forced to abide by?  Email policy is created to ensure that employees maximize the benefit of email usage and minimize the potential liability of its use. Typically, all email users are not only required but obligated to use their work email responsibly, professionally and ethically. Why then are so many politicians and government officials not being held to this seemingly standard protocol?

American politics is a never ending battle, one that seems to get old and stale as time goes on. I won’t be the first or last person to write about the depravity of many politicians and government workers that feast upon the average citizen’s ignorance. But there seems to be some hope. The Freedom of Information Act has somewhat given power back to the common folk. At any time, for any reason we can request of any company to produce emails, texts and documentation. As time gets older and technology evolves, (if it gets to the point of involving a court and subpoenas) judges are no longer allowing documentation to “be lost” due to faulty backup tapes or an email policy that requires data to be deleted after a certain time period. Wouldn’t a logical response to all of this be to protect yourself and your business?

Email Policy – Not Just An IT Issue

So what does this have to do with you? You may not even live in the United States, probably aren’t a government employee and most likely don’t have the fear of quote unquote scandal happening within your workplace.  But your company is still at risk.  Without email policies, and the ability to quickly produce data at the drop of a hat or FOIA request or subpoena, your company is facing huge legal fines, a tarnished reputation and a paradigm shift of employment for many people within your company- perhaps even you. Companies, based on their email policies, need to start keeping a tamper-proof, central, searchable repository of every email coming or leaving their company to protect themselves. Email policy and email archiving is no longer just an IT issue. It is also a legal issue- one that can no longer be used as a reactive action when being faced with legal recourse.

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