Your Complete Guide to Email Compliance
The reality of our digital age is the fact that more than 4.2 billion people use email, with approximately 300 billion emails being sent every day. In other words, there are a lot of business emails floating around, but how many are secured safely and adhere to comply with industry compliance regulations?
While many of us take this form of communication for granted, it’s important for businesses and organizations to remember that there are a number of national and international rules and compliance regulations when it comes to email — and failure to comply can result in costly fines and a legal headache that could have easily been avoided.
What Is Email Compliance?
What Is Compliance Legislation?
Compliance legislation refers to rules or laws related to email information that are mandated and enforced by a government, state or industry. Some examples include:
- HIPAA — The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) addresses the issue of maintaining privacy when it comes to a person’s private medical information.
- CAN-SPAM Act — The CAN-SPAM Act prohibits companies and organizations from using false or misleading information and deceptive subjective email subject lines. It also requires companies to disclose whether the email is an ad and the company’s physical postal address — and the ability for email recipients to opt out of future communication.
- GDPR — This is a regulation created by the European Union (EU) to protect the personal and private data of citizens of the EU and the European Economic Area and to establish a standard for data security laws across Europe.
- Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation — CASL investigates incidents of spam, malware, spyware and computer viruses and has the authority to administer financial penalties.
- The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) — This UK law provides specific rules on marketing communication, cookies, the security of communication services and customer privacy.
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) — There is no technical guidance for writing emails, but the go-to standards are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
There are also many email retention laws, including federal laws for archiving and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was established in 2002 as a direct response to the highly publicized court trials of large corporations, such as Enron, that participated in fraudulent financing reporting and suspicious business practices.
Who Is Responsible for Email Compliance?
In short — everyone within a business or organization. But more specifically, IT managers, system administrators and compliance officers are typically in charge of implementing an email compliance policy and disseminating appropriate relevant information to all employees.
Why Is Email Compliance Important?
Compliance regulations protect consumers and their personal information (such as health and financial records). They also protect against scammers who are trying to acquire information without the consumer’s consent.
In many industries, there are state and federal regulations in place, which means compliance is the law. Some organizations and businesses may also have to pass regular audits.
Consequences of Non-Compliance
The consequence of non-compliance is typically a fine. For example, penalties for violating the CAN-SPAM Act include a fine of $46,517 for each email violation (you can find the full details on the FTA’s website.)
Penalties for HIPAA email violations range from $100 to $1.5 million depending on the type and severity (and whether the violation has been corrected within a reasonable time frame).
In addition, if businesses and organizations fail to comply with required regulations, they will not only be subject to fines, but their reputations may be at stake, which can jeopardize consumer relationships and brand loyalty.
Tips for a Successful Email Management Policy
Before a business or organization implements an email management policy, here are some helpful considerations to keep in mind:
- Create a strategy and make sure everyone is on the same page. This includes everyone from stakeholders and leadership to IT and management. You also need to determine how this information will be communicated to all employees.
- Employ a solution that makes it easy to retain and search through your emails. An email archiving solution makes it easy to find the information you’re looking for since it has powerful search functionality. This includes wildcard searches, attachment searches, multi-unit searches, fuzzy searches, the ability to save searches and much more.
- Use best cybersecurity practices. It’s worth pointing out that this should be standard operating procedure for any type of business or organization, and email management, regardless of your industry, is no exception. Keep software up to date, maintain strong passwords and train employees on best practices like avoiding suspicious emails and using a virtual private network.
- Make sure you know and understand the most important email compliance policies within your organization. Go beyond the basics and read the fine print. Make sure you and your team have a solid grasp of what you need to do to maintain compliance. It’s always important to involve your lawyer or legal team in the process.
- Create a well-researched, comprehensive email management policy — but one that’s easy to implement. The policy should be thorough, clear and one that can be executed efficiently.
Email Compliance Steps
Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensuring a business or organization complies with all appropriate email rules and regulations:
- Understand your regulatory compliance requirements. With the help of your legal team, familiarize yourself with your organization’s email compliance laws and regulations for your industry.
- Consider purchasing an email archiving solution. This type of technology will safely retain and store your emails — and provide an easy and efficient way to search for the information you need.
- Work with your legal department to ensure you implement the compliance/archiving solution correctly. Make sure your legal department is involved in all aspects of the process — from researching possible solutions to implementation.
- Set specific compliance procedures and educate your employees. Decide how the procedures will be documented and communicated to your team.
- Stay on top of industry trends and ensure software is up to date. Regulations may change, and new laws may take effect. It’s important to work in tandem with your legal team to ensure you have the latest information and understand any industry-specific changes to email compliance.
- Work closely with the company who is archiving your data. It’s essential to partner with a company that puts its customers first, values feedback and is available to answer your questions. Archiving data is not a one-and-done solution. It’s a process that involves changing technology and evolving regulations — and one that depends on collaboration and communication between you and the company archiving your data.
Email Compliance Resources
Additional information about email compliance can be found here:
Q: What is email compliance?
A: Email compliance ensures a business or organization adheres to any legal requirements and regulations surrounding email communication. Compliance will vary by industry.
Q: What solutions can assist with email compliance?
A: An email archiving solution makes it easy to find the information you’re looking for since it has powerful search functionality. This includes wildcard searches, attachment searches, multi-unit searches, fuzzy searches, the ability to save searches and much more.
Q: What are examples of compliance requirements?
A: Examples of compliance requirements include HIPAA, CAN-SPAM Act and Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation. There are also many email retention laws, including federal laws for archiving and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Ensure Email Compliance With Intradyn
Intradyn’s Email Archiving Solution provides storing, searching and retrieving capabilities, which enable your compliance officer to manage emails in accordance with your organization’s specific legal requirements.