by Laurianne McLaughlin

Email That Disappears Without A Trace

Nov 20, 20062 mins

Recordless email: It’s an idea politicians might love, but what about CIOs?  I recently got a peek at VaporStream – a new “recordless” email service, that’s not quite email, not quite instant messaging, but a hybrid blend of both, for people who want to chat without electronic record.

Here’s how it works: You pay $40 a year for access to the web-based service, and all you need to use it is a browser. You must log in to see if you have a message from someone. You click on a sender’s name, and the message text pops up – only the text. VaporStream messages don’t show the header info and the message info on the same screen. Messages can’t be forwarded, edited, or saved. Basically, you read the message, reply, and then the message disappears.

The vendor, Void Communications, says CIOs are dying for a way to restore privacy to email. C-level executives want to be able to dash off emails without thought, just like they’re making phone calls, this argument goes.

I say this argument goes against what I’ve heard from CIOs since joining the magazine: Today’s CIO needs to be able to record, store and search all kinds of email in this age of lawsuit pressures and regulatory requirements. If anything, CIOs are looking for new ways to track user data, store the collected information, and analyze it.

What’s more, the rules for CIOs just keep getting more complicated.

As of  December 1, new legal guidelines that determine what kinds of information your company may be asked to produce in the discovery phase of a lawsuit will become effective. Dubbed the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the revised rules include voice mail messages and instant message conversations in the list of data that’s discoverable.

You’re not auditing your users’ IM conversations? You’re certainly not alone. As my IDG News Service colleague, Bob McMillan, ably reported in covering IT lessons learned from the recent Congressman Mark Foley IM scandal, most companies are not yet monitoring IM use. Some CIOs don’t understand IM auditing is even possible. But ignorance is no longer a defense. This one could now cost you if it comes up in a lawsuit.

As for recordless email, what might it cost you as a CIO? Tell me what you think.