Ruddock says e-discovery critical to corporate accountability

E-mails only tip of the iceberg

Federal Attorney General Philip Ruddock believes corporate Australia needs to be more accountable when it comes to document retention and record management.

This is particularly true in the public sector, where accountability is critical.

High profile cases such as HIH, Alpine Offset and the Australian Wheat Board, prove that electronic fingerprints can have a devastating impact.

And it's not just about saving work e-mails or utilising the office shredder, it is a little more complicated.

"Privacy laws, freedom of information and archives legislation play an important role in ensuring that government remains accountable to the people and all of these laws impact on how or if the government can use, store or destroy information," Ruddock said.

He referred to recent changes to document retention laws in Victoria, adding that he will outline government obligations under the new legislation at the Information Management and E-discovery Summit to be held in Sydney on June 5-6, 2007.

Organizations that have overhauled their records and implemented new systems include the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Future Fund Management Agency, the Australian War Memorial and WA Police.

The new legislation passed by the Victorian government late last year is known as the Document Destruction Act.

It doesn't just cover e-mails, the legislation also cover computer hard drives, PDAs, home computers, laptops, BlackBerrys, instant messaging, Web sites, and mobile phone records.

A wide range of complex retention issues will be covered at the summit including a panel discussion with John Sheahan, counsel assisting the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the James Hardie case.

In addition to Ruddock, other speakers include Philip Argy of Mallesons Stephen Jaques, and David Vaile, executive director of the NSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre.

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