Many workers lack awareness of data retention and device usage policies at their organizations, according to a new survey by e-discovery platform provider kCura.

More than half of the 1,013 office-based employees the company surveyed online in December 2016 and January 2017 said their companies do not have written policies on data retention or personal use of work devices, or if they do they aren't aware of them.

In addition, 55% of office-based employees said they think there is no harm to their companies when they use a work device for personal communications.

The employee communication habits revealed by the study could put organizations at risk for increased data retention and discovery costs in today's increasingly litigious business environment, according to David Horrigan, e-discovery counsel at kCura and former data privacy analyst.

That's because laws, regulations, and rules, including the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which govern civil proceedings in U.S. district courts, have generally treated all data within the enterprise as potentially discoverable.

"With so much data to organize, risk and costs can—and do—get out of control very quickly," Horrigan said. "Complete bans on the personal use of work devices would be difficult—if not impossible—to implement, and could be harmful to employee morale. However, companies do need to implement reasonable policies to mitigate risk."

The survey results show that 63% of employees don't believe their companies have policies on email retention or checking personal email and other accounts at work, and 56% said the same about written social media policies.

A majority of employees (70%) admit to using email/folders in their inbox as filing systems on the job.

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Bob Violino

Bob Violino

Bob Violino is a freelance technology and business writer who covers a variety of topics, including big data and analytics, cloud computing, information security and mobile technology.