How much data is your organization obligated to preserve for ediscovery in a pending or anticipated litigation matter? What steps should you take to preserve that data?
These are pressing questions for any organization that regularly manages litigation. Corporate legal teams must strike a balance between retaining potentially relevant data against the risk of keeping too much. A similar balancing act exists in the benefit/cost analysis to exclusively rely on in-place data preservation vs. habitually collecting data to preserve it.
The wisest approach, in our opinion, is one that identifies multiple preservation options and fully leverages each instead of using a one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why we’re glad to see that Slack has rolled out a new legal hold capability that enables Slack Enterprise Grid users to preserve Slack data in place.
What Can You Do With Slack’s In-Place Preservation?
Slack’s legal hold essentially overrides an organization’s Slack data retention policies. When a user places a legal hold, Slack suspends the routine deletion schedule for any messages and files subject to the legal hold.
Slack’s in-place preservation function is specific to people, not channels or conversations. When an administrator places a hold on a person, Slack gives users the option to retain “all conversations or just the direct messages [that the] member is a part of.” To access the held data from Slack, users must either export the data or access it through the Slack Discovery API.
What if an individual Slack user tries to edit or delete their messages after the legal hold is in effect? Traditionally, the Slack conversation history file can retain edits and deletions, and the applied retention policies manage the duration that companies keep the records. However, Slack’s new legal hold capability overrides standard retention to preserve all content for relevant conversations.
Naturally, Slack’s legal hold function also allows users to release a legal hold once a preservation obligation no longer applies.
Pros and Cons of Preserving Slack Data in Place
As we noted in the introduction, the upside is that it’s always beneficial for organizations to have options as to how they preserve data for litigation. Having the ability to preserve data in place saves organizations the cost of collecting, processing, and storing data that they may not need.
That said, there are several downsides to preserving Slack data in place.
- In-place preservation doesn’t permit targeted preservation. Because Slack’s preserve-in-place function only applies to people, not channels, an organization cannot focus its data preservation on relevant channels or conversations. Instead, it must lock down every conversation that an individual of interest has participated in or had access to. Many of those conversations are unlikely to be relevant or essential to the litigation.
- In-place preservation doesn’t control data in shared channels. When organizations use Slack Connect to share message spaces with other organizations, Slack grants control over each message to the organization that created that message. In other words, an organization could set a much shorter retention schedule for its own messages and files within a shared channel, irrespective of the schedule used by the other organization in the conversation. Slack’s legal hold function does not override a partner organization’s retention—or deletion—of its messages. As a result, users who rely on in-place preservation cannot ensure that they will capture all of the content from a shared channel.
- In-place preservation doesn’t protect channels from deletion. There’s another potential hiccup with Slack’s in-place preservation capability. Suppose a Slack user who’s subject to a hold actively participates in a particular channel. If that channel is deleted at some point while the hold is pending, Slack warns customers that its message and file data from deleted channels will not be saved.
So, how can organizations leverage the advantages of Slack’s legal hold function without risking the loss of shared data and data from deleted channels?
Learn More In This Webinar
The Best of Both Worlds: Hanzo Hold for Slack
Hanzo Hold for Slack is a precise instrument for legal holds, purpose-built for the Slack environment.
With Hanzo Hold, organizations can tailor legal holds to suit their exact needs. For example, a particular matter might require that the organization put only a single project channel on hold, rather than applying holds to every individual custodian or individual of interest. Users can further narrow the scope of their preservation effort by applying a date range or keyword search to identify the most relevant and helpful pieces of information within a Slack environment.
Hanzo Hold can collect data to preserve it, rather than relying exclusively on in-place preservation. That means that as soon as a matter has been scoped and collected using Hanzo Hold, data from shared channels or deleted channels is safely preserved regardless of what subsequently happens within those channels. If your preservation obligation includes data within shared channels, collecting to preserve is essential.
But organizations that use Hanzo Hold for Slack aren’t limited to collecting to preserve data. Hanzo Hold automatically activates Slack’s legal hold function to preserve a broader scope of data in place while only collecting data that is immediately relevant and important.
Hanzo Hold also makes it easy for organizations to extract and review any edited or deleted content from Slack’s history files.
We’re glad to see that Slack is taking steps to help its customers better manage the retention and preservation of data that may be relevant to litigation. If you already have Slack Enterprise Grid, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of Slack’s in-place preservation function.
But while preserving in place is a great option to have, it isn’t a panacea. Collecting data to preserve it may still be a more efficient strategy for targeted preservation and protecting shared channel data—that may otherwise be lost.
Hanzo Hold for Slack gives organizations more ways to incorporate Slack data into their corporate ediscovery, information governance, and privacy request workflows. With Hanzo Hold for Slack, you can search Slack content for specific information by keyword, custodian, channel, date, or all of the above at once. Plus, you can view those results together in a list or explore them individually in their surrounding context. And Hanzo Hold for Slack creates review-platform-ready exports that are clear and simple to read and review.
To learn more or see a demonstration, contact us.