New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suspending a 90-day automatic deletion policy implemented by the current governor, Andrew Cuomo, when he was attorney general. In 2007, Cuomo instituted a policy in the New York Attorney General’s office to automatically delete most emails after 90 days.
A memo from Scheiderman’s chief of staff, Micah Lasher, Thursday afternoon said the attorney general had “decided to suspend, effective immediately, the policy that was first put in place in the Attorney General’s office in 2007.” Lasher added that a new “document retention policy” was being formulated and that the suspension was effective immediately.
In February, the International Business Times broke the news that as attorney general Cuomo had implemented the original deletion policy for the attorney general’s office in 2007. That policy appeared to have been expanded when Capital New York revealed in February that officials in the Cuomo administration had begun to follow a similar policy of automatically deleting emails, again, more than 90 years old, at state government bodies. The decision was explained by Cuomo’s chief information officer, Maggie Miller, as saving money and “making government work better.”
Schneiderman had wavered as recently as Monday as to whether he would roll back the policy implemented within the attorney general’s office, calling email retention “a complicated issue.” He tread carefully at a news conference, saying, “This is certainly a hot issue right now in the state legislative session. We’re watching it carefully,” Capital New York reported.
In Albany on Thursday, state legislators introduced legislation to retain emails for a far longer period of time than 90 days. Currently, the controversial policy means that unless they are manually marked or saved, emails are automatically deleted after 90 days. Watchdog and rights groups have been vocally critical of the policy, arguing that it erodes government transparency and decreases accountability.