Approximately 2 years ago, the SEC implemented a new e-mail security protocol for its communications regarding non-public investigations, among other things.
This system required defense counsel to fill out a webpage form, enter e-mails and passwords to meet the SEC security requirements. Ultimately, the recipient would only be able to read and reply to the e-mail over this secure network.
Of course, the thought that the SEC wishes to encrypt e-mails and protect such information is laudatory, but it has created a problem for users, who do not have easy access to Internet Explorer and Outlook. Further, many of the e-mails are time sensitive, and, as such, do not allow for instantaneous communication. Additionally, the system only retains e-mails for approximately 90 days, and it is not clear if the SEC is taking precautions to keep the e-mails for longer periods of time.
Like much of the SEC’s attempts to modernize its systems, this e-mail system has a number of “bugs.” The SEC may have to consider another system or changes to the current one if it continues down this path. If it does not, the SEC may lose important information, and continue its run of bad press over document retention and preservation policies.