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Media Companies Need to Address New Document Retention-Confidentiality Dilemma


Chubb Handbook Offers Guidance for Mitigating Liability

WARREN, NJ. - “Media companies that have not updated their document retention policies to reflect today’s technologies may find it difficult to successfully defend themselves against a defamation or invasion-of-privacy lawsuit or to protect confidential sources,” said Ken Goldstein, assistant vice president, Chubb & Son, and worldwide media liability manager for Chubb Specialty Insurance.

New e-discovery amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure acknowledge that information stored on email, voice mail, flash drives, MP3 players, editorial document management systems, system backup tapes and other devices is discoverable. Without the proper protocols in place, media companies can face a variety of dilemmas when responding to subpoenas for electronically-stored information, including retrieving it and exposing confidential reporter sources and other private information.

“Unfortunately, there is no single set of rules for media companies to follow regarding document retention issues,” said Goldstein. “With this in mind, Chubb has created a handbook to provide media companies with a framework to evaluate their document retention procedures to best position themselves as potential litigants within the bounds of the law.”

Chubb’s handbook, “A Media Company’s Guide to Records Management,” notes six key considerations, including document ownership and confidential sources, when document retention procedures are developed or reviewed. It also discusses how, in the absence of appropriate procedures, a lawsuit can arise as a result of illegally obtained information, requests for consumer data, defamation and invasion of privacy.

“The confidentiality of a reporter’s source is an old issue, but the new e-discovery amendments, advancing technology and the growing number of liability lawsuits have thrust this issue to the forefront for media companies,” said Goldstein. “Media companies need to work closely with legal counsel to ensure their document retention policies will help protect the company and its employees from defamation, invasion-of-privacy and other liability lawsuits.”


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