PRIA Releases Draft Electronic Records Preservation Paper
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
The Property Records Industry Association released a draft of its Electronic Records Preservation whitepaper. The paper was released Sept. 19 for a 30-day comment period.
The paper begins: “The increasing use of electronic records since the late 1990s has provided unlimited access and unparalleled retrieval speeds along with new risks and liabilities. Those same electronic records may be the most challenging type of record that recording jurisdictions have been tasked with preserving permanently, i.e., forever. History has shown that preserving recorded documents is a low priority. Preserving electronic records is complex and requires a greater commitment and effort than previous formats and media.”
It states that effective electronic records preservation programs should include:
- “The ability at any time to confirm the existence of a record;
- The ability to authenticate the record;
- The ability to maintain file uniformity or track acceptable file formats; and
- The ability to recover the authentic record if it has been lost or corrupted.”
Among other things, the paper concludes:
- “Jurisdictions (both public and private) must develop an understanding of, and strategy for, electronic records preservation. The difficulty in attaining permanency has been underestimated in the past and will be again with electronic records. Is it acceptable to lose any record at any time?
- The ongoing existence and authenticity of land records as captured require continuous attention for effective preservation.
- While laws and regulations, which set records management policies, are often slow to change, new technology options advance rapidly.
- Preservation of electronic records costs money, and resources are often not made available. Spending money on preservation has not been a high priority for recording jurisdictions, their larger locale, or private businesses.
- Creating a plan for electronic records preservation is essential. The plan should include viewpoints and expertise of a variety of people with different skill sets and expectations. The principles of preservation need to be considered and incorporated into the plan. Preservation is not computer system backup.
- Previous preservation media (e.g., paper, microfilm, optical media) should be incorporated as possible emergency options for recovery. These prior media are considered layers of insurance. As older layers of insurance become obsolete, new layers need to be added.
- The preservation plan must be regularly reviewed for effectiveness over a record’s lifetime, as new technologies may outpace the ability of an office to manage its records resources.”