1. Ask yourself – “Is this the truth?”
Do not create any records, including documents, data, and email, that do not reflect the truth. Opinions often incorporate personal biases and can often be misinterpreted as fact or truth.
2. Indicate as “draft” if it is.
Work‐in‐progress documents may contain information that could be misleading. Make sure you indicate the document as “Draft”, if it is a draft.
3. Make it a habit of cleaning your computer and digital device.
Make it a habit of deleting previous work‐in‐progress drafts that you no longer need. Documents should never be deleted in response to or in anticipation of a lawsuit, a government investigation, or an audit.
4. Assume media and law enforcement may see it.
Once you SEND it, your email may end up somewhere beyond your control. Once you SAVE it, the file stays in your computer and Company’s network, and law enforcement agencies may confiscate both if you or your Company become subject to law enforcement actions. If you DELETE it, your computer now has a record of your deletion, but the data itself may still be recoverable. Thinking “no one will ever see this” is a very naïve assumption.
5. Be a professional writer.
When communicating in a business environment, you should communicate information that is relevant, accurate, and based on fact in a respectful and constructive way. Avoid using words that can be interpreted many ways or that may have special legal meanings (e.g. “dominate a market”, “document forgery”, or “fraud”).
6. Know your audience.
Consider your intended and possibly unintended audience and make sure what you write is relevant. Extraneous and irrelevant information can confuse your message, and certain recipients could misinterpret or be offended by your communication.
7. Protect Company intellectual properties and respect others intellectual properties.
Do not SEND any Company confidential or proprietary information to others without making sure a proper non‐disclosure agreement (NDA) is in place and the recipient is limited to those who need to know under the NDA. Likewise, unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted works is illegal unless Company is specifically authorized to use that material.
8. Think twice before hitting “SEND” button.
It may be a just matter of clicking on the icon but proofread. This will give you a chance to ensure that your communication is professional, respectful, and otherwise appropriate. One click may constitute a misleading representation or misuse of a Company trade secret.
9. Remember, it will not disappear.
Do not think that merely deleting a file from the computer means it is gone. With current computer forensic technologies, most data that have been previously deleted can be easily recovered.
10. When a legal hold is ordered by your General Counsel or Chief Legal Officer to suspend all document destruction procedures, it must be followed.
If Company becomes subject to lawsuits or government investigations, you may be asked to preserve all information that may be relevant to the matter. If you try to hide or delete any documents that may be relevant, Company can face huge fines, and Company may lose the case. No matter how harmful you believe the material may be to Company, never delete or hide it.