Website and Social Media Archiving:A Growing Necessity for Government AgenciesIntroductionShortly after taking office, Pre...
Compliance ConcernsThe issue of records retention for government agencies is an evolving one. At the federal level,organiz...
unless the document falls within an enumerated exception. Generally, FOIA regulations state thatgovernments may not withho...
been manipulated, altered, or misrepresented.7 Without a defensible archive of a webpage, thoserequirements are very diffi...
Social Media: Benefits and RisksThe explosion of social networking platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube...
Web Archiving is the SolutionObviously, a responsible plan for admissible records retention is critical for federal, state...
The PageFreezer SolutionPageFreezer is pleased to offer a complete, SaaS-based archiving solution which provides for the s...
… ensures defensible digital records.In addition to providing a user-centric view of content in the original rendered form...
Why PageFreezer?Once your company has decided to implement a web archiving policy, it’s important to understand thefunctio...
ConclusionWeb archiving is rapidly becoming the preferred method of records retention as governments seekresponsible, effe...
About PageFreezerPageFreezer.com provides government agencies and companies with a solution for website archiving,regulato...
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Website and Social Media Archiving: A Growing Necessity for Government Agencies

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Government agencies are publishing more information online, communicating through social media, and opening data using web tools. But they are responsible for preserving their online activities in order to comply with records retention laws and be prepared for FOIA requests. This paper examines the necessity and benefits of web archiving for agencies, and presents effective solutions.

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Website and Social Media Archiving: A Growing Necessity for Government Agencies

  1. 1. Website and Social Media Archiving:A Growing Necessity for Government AgenciesIntroductionShortly after taking office, President Obama issued an Open Government Directive and instructedexecutive departments and agencies to “use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate amongthemselves, across all levels of Government.”1 This mandate, along with the growing interest in “Gov 2.0”and “open government” among state and municipal agencies, has led to an unprecedented amount ofonline data and an explosion of social media use by governments at all levels. Now, agencies are findingit difficult to effectively manage and store their digital content in the face of existing records retention laws,and new challenges relating to electronic information.The legal implications of digital record-keeping extend across many government situations: e-discoveryproceedings, lawsuits, FOIA requests, audits, and investigations. Agencies at local, state, and federallevels are accountable to various laws regarding the proper preservation of online communications. Inmost cases, electronic records are subject to the same retention regulations as traditional ones. Theserecords are no longer limited to agency e-mails or websites, but cascade across blogs, wikis, RSS feeds,and social networking sites. It is critical for governments to implement responsible policies for properlypreserving the ever-increasing amounts of online data.This whitepaper examines the unique challenges associated with online communications and socialmedia for government agencies, and explains the role of web archiving in addressing those challenges.This will assist you in understanding current web communications regulations, their implications forgovernments, and the best practices for implementing solutions. We hope this document serves to informand empower your agency toward future success.1 http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Transparency_and_Open_Government/
  2. 2. Compliance ConcernsThe issue of records retention for government agencies is an evolving one. At the federal level,organizations like the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Office ofManagement and Budget (OMB) have provided some guidance documents and regulation regarding thepreservation of web records2, but the technologies are developing faster than the rules. Agencies at stateand municipal levels have developed their own versions of records retention requirements.3 At the heartof all regulations is a common-sense directive: governments should take steps to make sure theirinformation is accessible and that important data can be located quickly when necessary.“Effective records management . . . constitutes the backbone of the AdministrationsOpen Government Initiative. The Government cannot be open and accountable if itdoes not preserve - and cannot find - its records.” David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United StatesThere are several federal statutes that relate, at least in part, to the preservation of government records.The retention requirements relevant to these laws should now be interpreted as applicable to digitalcontent: ● Federal Records Act of 1950 ● Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of 1966 ● E-Government Act of 2002More recently, the House of Representatives passed HR 1387 (Electronic Records Preservation Act) toencourage the implementation of strict records management policies. The legislation called for agenciesat the federal level to adopt systems to ensure the capture and preservation of digital records. Theresolution was not passed in the Senate, but the Act served as a step in the process of developingregulations for the retention of electronic government records.Regardless of specific retention laws, agencies often find themselves facing situations that necessitatethe preservation of web records. Some of these situations are outlined below. Governments would dowell to consider the direction digital information is headed: it will continue increase, and regulators willbegin to define additional requirements that will certainly involve the retention of government records onall levels, including electronic information.Consider how your agency would respond when faced with these common occurrences. As your onlinecontent increases, will your IT team be empowered to provide specific records from particular dates in atimely and complete manner?FOIA RequestsFreedom of Information Act (FOIA) and open records laws vary in scope and detail, but most municipal,state, and federal agencies are required to produce government records to anyone that requests them,2 http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/reqs_bestpractices/laws_regs/web_records.shtml3 http://www.rcfp.org/ogg/index.php?function=browse
  3. 3. unless the document falls within an enumerated exception. Generally, FOIA regulations state thatgovernments may not withhold an entire document if it contains information that is not subject todisclosure -- it must redact that information only, and produce a copy of the document.4With the burgeoning amount of online communication and publication by governments, FOIA and openrecords regulations have become complicated. The amount of electronic information has multipliedexponentially, and agencies must implement new policies for dealing efficiently with requests for digitalrecords. Amendments to existing open records laws, like the Electronic Freedom of Information ActAmendments of 1996,5 specifically declare governments to be responsible for making digital contentaccessible to citizens.Systematic preservation of government records, documents, and datasets -- with the ability to search andretrieve if necessary -- is the key to compliance. Agencies that do not ensure the sustainability of theirweb presence will find themselves reactively scrambling to comply with FOIA requests, while agenciesthat preserve their digital records can respond in a timely and efficient manner. In cases where only partof a document or dataset may be released, agencies that implement robust retention tools can moreeasily modify their web records for public viewing. They can maintain an authentic archive of the originalwhile releasing the modified version to the requester, thereby complying with open records and retentionregulations.LitigationA few years ago, government agencies were only beginning to understand the importance of onlinerecords retention. In June 2007 the U.S. Court of Federal Claims chastised the Justice Department andthe Army for failing to properly preserve electronic records, in the case of United Medical SupplyCompany v. United States.6 United Medical claimed the Army had not adhered to the terms of aprocurement contract by ordering supplies from other vendors. When the Army Defense Supply Center’slegal team sought e-mail messages relevant to the case, it was discovered they had been destroyedaccording to routine. These electronic records were the government’s only line of defense. Theirdestruction resulted in additional e-discovery costs and a censuring remark from the judge:“Aside perhaps from perjury, no act serves to threaten the judicial process more thanthe spoliation of evidence.” Judge Francis Allegra, United Medical Supply v. United StatesGovernment agencies at all levels must recognize the importance of records retention in case of litigation.Now that electronic records have expanded to include complex web pages, social media communications,and extensive online datasets, the ability to preserve and retrieve is more urgent than ever.Digital Evidence in Court: Burden of ProofIf your agency already employs a retention strategy, it’s important to recognize that not all electronicrecords are created equal. Suppose your agency did find itself facing legal action or e-discoveryproceedings. How would your web records hold up in court? It is critical for organizations to understandhow digital evidence is treated by law. Your website - and indeed, all online content - is transient bynature. The Federal Rules of Evidence require proof that the data presented is authentic, and has not4 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3720/is_200109/ai_n8957360/5 http://www.justice.gov/oip/foia_updates/Vol_XVII_4/page2.htm6 http://gcn.com/articles/2008/10/26/the-case-for-ediscovery.aspx
  4. 4. been manipulated, altered, or misrepresented.7 Without a defensible archive of a webpage, thoserequirements are very difficult to meet.For digital records to be accepted in court, you must be able to prove their authenticity and integrity. Dataauthenticity verifies that the presented web content was indeed from your website and was online at aspecified date. Data integrity verifies that the presented web content is an exact representation of theoriginal and has not been changed over time. If you can’t prove the verifiability of your digital evidence, itwill likely be thrown out as in the pivotal case of Vinhee vs. American Express:In 2003, Vee Vinhee owed American Express more than $40,000 on his two credit cards. He filed forbankruptcy while American Express pressed charges, seeking settlements of the balance he owed.During the course of the case proceedings, the credit card firm presented electronic records of Vinhee’smonthly statements as evidence to the court. However, the court refused to accept these online recordsas evidence because the firm could not prove authenticity of the records. AMEX appealed but lost thecase in the end.8This was a trend-setting verdict for the emerging issue of electronic evidence in court. Subsequent caseshave upheld the same standards and continue to place the burden of proof on the submitter of the digitalfiles. These standards can be met by utilizing three key components: a certified atomic clock to establisha legally-accepted time, a digital signature to establish data integrity, and a digital timestamp to establishdata authenticity. How can government agencies ensure that these components are present for all theironline activity? Through comprehensive, systematic archiving of their websites and social media pages.7http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rules.htm#Rule9018http://www.financialadvisormagazine.com/component/content/article/1740.html?magazineID=1&issue=84&Itemid=73
  5. 5. Social Media: Benefits and RisksThe explosion of social networking platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube has not beenlimited to the public sector. As governments have realized the value of real-time communication withcitizens, many have become active on some type of social network, often without establishing policies formanaging the information that is published by the agency. A recent report released by IBM’s Center forthe Business of Government concludes that, in general, governments have shown a “lack of standards forrecords management” within social media.9According to the report, 22 out of 24 major agencies are utilizing social media tools. The most popularare RSS feeds, microblogs, social networking sites (like Twitter and Facebook), blogs, and video sharing.These platforms hold vast potential for connecting citizens with their governments, but agencies mustrecognize the regulatory risk involved with social media in the absence of proper records managementpolicies. The author of the report, Patricia C. Franks, notes that current regulations pose a problem formanaging records created using social media tools."New media brings with it new challenges -- especially for records managersstruggling to apply existing records management laws and regulations . . . in a socialmedia world." Patricia C. Franks, Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Science, San Jose State University, CATo remain compliant with existing regulations and to prepare for those that will inevitably be developed asgovernments focus on creating new standards, agencies must act to ensure their social media activity ispreserved in a way that enables them to recover it if necessary. This is complicated because socialmedia tools involve complex web content, links, videos, third party posts, and more.Would your agency be prepared with searchable records of past social media activity if it was required bya regulator or for e-discovery situations? If not, your agency might face increased costs in both time andmoney, or enforcement actions. The time to prepare is now.9 https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=1gzmMWLydBCtu5YkAgVlpskw0WnKnP_kFuN6r3aaTTExdgTLV1ONS7EnYNv2d&hl=en
  6. 6. Web Archiving is the SolutionObviously, a responsible plan for admissible records retention is critical for federal, state, and localgovernments. Should it become necessary to access the history of your web presence, would youconfidently be able to produce non-refutable records from a specified date? How difficult would it be tofind the data in question? And most importantly, would you be able to view the content (including links,rich media, feeds, etc) just as it appeared when it was created?Server Back-UpSome agencies believe their server backup policy is providing them with sufficient protection. However,the web is built on rapidly evolving technologies, making it increasingly difficult to maintain acomprehensive record of web history using back-up alone. In fact, for historical web pages to be valid,organizations must continually back-up any databases (in addition to the other website components)because the databases influence the site’s content, and are constantly changing. In addition, backupsare cumbersome (a continual manual process), expensive (because of excessive storage demands), andinefficient (since they cannot be indexed or searched). Above all, most server back-ups simply do notmeet the standards for data integrity and authenticity that are required by the Federal Rules of Evidencefor use in court.CMS Revision ControlWhat about Content Management Systems (CMS)? Many of these systems have “revision control” ofwebpage content built into the application, enabling users to view versions of webpages from the past.But this technology isn’t powerful enough to restore the pages in a comprehensive, defensible form.Modern online content is dynamic and complex, often pulling data (such as Flash or AJAX content) fromoutside the CMS’s database. A webpage reproduced through CMS revision history will not be trulyadmissible unless the reproduced page bears a digital timestamp and signature. Needless to say, this isnot a viable option for agencies interested in a strong records retention policy.Web ArchivingArchiving is the emerging solution to the problem of maintaining perfect historical web records. Anenduring web archive is created by capturing a digital snapshot of the web content, independent ofspecific databases or technologies. That means the webpage can always be viewed in its original formand deliver the same user experience, meeting regulation requirements for authentic copies. Archivingguarantees your agency’s ability to exactly reproduce past online content, and to locate specific pagesusing search technologies for web-analytics or e-discovery purposes.
  7. 7. The PageFreezer SolutionPageFreezer is pleased to offer a complete, SaaS-based archiving solution which provides for the specificneeds of government agencies -- daily automatic archiving of your website and social media pages,perfect reproduction and replay of those archives, excellent search and retrieval functionality, andcompliance with regulations concerning records retention.Implementing a web archiving policy requires considerable investigation and forethought, given thevarious options now available in archiving technology. How will you know which archiving service iscovering all the bases? There are several key components to consider. The ideal archiving solution:… employs a powerful content capture method.In order to provide comprehensive archiving of even complex or hard-to-reach content, PageFreezerutilizes archival crawlers (derived from search engine crawling technologies) and harvesters (for real-timearchiving) to capture pages. PageFreezer’s web crawl and harvest technologies are industry-strengthand work well in a wide range of circumstances and site / page designs.… provides perfect representations of digital content.Today’s websites employ all manner of technologies -- Javascript, Flash, Web 2.0, AJAX, and much more-- making it difficult to secure archives that can be viewed as exact representations of the originals. OnlyPageFreezer supports the capture of ALL complex web content (including Flash). The perfect copies arestored unchanged, which is particularly important within a legal context.… eliminates dependency on publishing software and databases.The preservation and storage of digital content is best approached using the SaaS (software as a service)model -- everything happens online, with nothing to install or configure. PageFreezer takes responsibilityfor your archives and stores them for you, independent of specific technologies or databases.… allows for powerful search functionality across all archived material.Discovering and analyzing specific archives is simple within PageFreezer’s browser-based console, whichallows for detailed keyword searches and filtering commands across your entire archive or within specificsite / date combinations. Unique calendar and timeline features help agencies perceive how theirwebpages have changed over time.… guarantees secure archive storage.Responsible handling of your agency’s sensitive data is of vital importance. PageFreezer stores yourarchives on a fault-tolerant data cloud at our SAS70 Type II compliant data center, then mirrors theinformation to a geographically remote second location as an added precaution. Archives will not bechanged or destroyed during the duration of your agency’s subscription.… offers a variety of options for acquiring web content.With archival crawlers browsing your website capturing everything within a defined scope, it’s essential toset parameters that will keep the resulting archives relevant to your agency’s needs. With PageFreezer,you can choose to archive entire websites, individual pages, specific URL paths, or even exclude keywords from the crawlers’ search. You also determine how often you want your site archived, preventingredundancy and keeping your records pertinent.
  8. 8. … ensures defensible digital records.In addition to providing a user-centric view of content in the original rendered form (as required for legaluse), PageFreezer places a 512-bit strong digital signature on each archived page, proving the contenthas not been altered (data integrity). PageFreezer also provides each page with a digital timestamp,synchronized with certified atomic clocks, to prove the content was online at a specified date (dataauthenticity). These precautions guarantee the admissibility of your archived records.… supports the Litigation Hold process.In the case of legal action or e-discovery proceedings, PageFreezer provides prompt exports of archivedcontent. Within a few business days of your request, your legal counsel will receive a well-preparedpackage including searchable PDF files and the native files with our digital timestamp and signature,providing the defensible evidence required in court. Regular data export is also available, should youneed a local copy of your records for any reason.
  9. 9. Why PageFreezer?Once your company has decided to implement a web archiving policy, it’s important to understand thefunctional differences between various archiving services. PageFreezer is industry-leading in a numberof aspects and offers several unique functionalities. The following feature checklist is included for yourconvenience in comparing archiving options.Legal Support: ● 512-bit strong digital signature ● RFC 3136 -compliant timestamp ● Synched with certified atomic clocks ● Supports Legal Hold process ● Optional affidavitSearch Features: ● Full text search ● Search all content in snapshots ● Metadata search ● Boolean search ● Proximity searchExport Options: ● PDF with support for Search, Copy, and Paste ● Native Format
  10. 10. ConclusionWeb archiving is rapidly becoming the preferred method of records retention as governments seekresponsible, effective, compliant solutions for managing their increasing amounts of online content. Youcan protect and empower your agency by bringing PageFreezer’s powerful technologies to work for you.As the archiving industry grows and evolves, we are committed to continued innovation, ensuring that ourcustomers always have access to the most comprehensive, robust archiving technologies available.To learn more about web archiving or find out how you can get started today, please contact us:PageFreezer Customer Service1.888.916.399info@pagefreezer.com
  11. 11. About PageFreezerPageFreezer.com provides government agencies and companies with a solution for website archiving,regulatory compliance, e-discovery, and litigation support.The service is available in two editions: On Demand or On Premises. For online service, with no softwareinstallation or configuration, choose PageFreezer On Demand. Set up your account and begin archivingwithin an hour.If you prefer to keep your data private “in house,” choose PageFreezer On Premises. With this edition,you can also archive your intranet and other internal websites.PageFreezer is brought you by PageFreezer Software, Inc., a Vancouver-based company with 4 officesworldwide in the USA, Canada and Europe.

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