Category Archives: Compliance (General)

Poster boy for Information Governance

Years ago, while teaching a course to MBA students at Rice University, I used the Target credit card breach as a case study.  It touched a lot of bases.  Now we have a better one.

While there have been a lot of information governance-related stories in the news over the past two years, including Equifax and Facebook and VW and Wells Fargo, my nominee for the one name associated with the most significant teaching example in information governance and compliance is the former FBI Director, James Comey.

First, he gave us The Day That Information Governance Died, with his July 5, 2016 pronouncement that, notwithstanding her clear violations of several applicable legal laws dealing with the handling of confidential or secret information (and the destruction of information subject to a subpoena), Secretary Hillary Clinton’s use (and wiping) of a private server to store government email was not going to be prosecuted.  Such a pronouncement deviated “‘from well-established Department policies'” that the FBI does not comment about  ongoing criminal investigations.

Then he wrote a memo ostensibly commemorating a meeting he had with his boss on government business on a government computer (while in a government vehicle) during the work day, and declared that that was his personal correspondence that he could (and did) distribute as he pleased.

And now we learn that he conducted government business over his own private gmail account {that information does not appear in the WSJ article – Ed.}, and actively avoid his boss’ oversight (and his bosses failed to adequately supervise him).  “Report Blasts FBI Agents, Comey Over Clinton Probe,” The Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2018 A1. Inspector General releases his report on the Clinton Investigation.


  • Violations of law are not enforced
  • Evidence is destroyed notwithstanding a subpoena
  • Senior employees ignore long-standing policy
  • Senior employees treat documents prepared by them in the course of business as their personal information
  • Senior employees use private email accounts to transact government business
  • Employees hide things from their bosses
  • Bosses failed to adequately supervise their reports

And this is at the FBI, by a lawyer.

Does anyone wonder why we have a hard time getting traction on information governance initiatives?  Certainly an argument for an Information Governance case study of just the Clinton email investigation and its aftermath.  Not sure you could cover it all in one semester, at both law schools and business schools.



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Filed under Communications, Compliance, Compliance (General), Controls, Culture, Discovery, Duty, Duty of Care, Employees, Governance, Government, Information, Internal controls, Lawyers, Managers, Oversight, Ownership, Ownership, Policy, Requirements, Supervision, Who is in charge?

A billion here, a billion there

Eventually, you’re talking real money.

“Volkswagen Fined $1 Billion in Germany,” The Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2018 B4. Fine for “dereliction of management oversight” following the diesel emissions-testing scandal.  Somewhat broader than a Caremark claim.

Will the directors have to pay anything out of their pockets?  Or just their shareholders’ pockets?

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Filed under Board, Compliance, Compliance, Compliance (General), Controls, Corporation, Culture, Culture, Directors, Duty, Governance, Internal controls, Oversight, Oversight

Trend to watch

“Vietnam Tightens Web Grip With New Cybersecurity Law,” The Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2018 A7.  The Vietnamese government wants access to all Vietnam-based users’ data.

Several provisions of new law will make the lives of international companies such as Facebook and Google, who must now open an office in Vietnam, store the data of Vietnam-based users in the country, and promptly take down user-posted content at the government’s request.

What happens when an irresistible force (the Internet) encounters and immovable object (the government of a sovereign country)?  The US started this (sort of) when it exported the joys of e-discovery.  Then Europe replied by imposing global privacy rules.  Now China and Vietnam are pushing some of their own requirements, but more as restrictions on Internet companies doing business in their countries.

Who’s going to win?

Intersection of Information, Governance, and Compliance.


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Filed under Access, Compliance, Compliance (General), Controls, Corporation, Culture, Duty, Governance, Legal, Requirements

What’s your word worth?

Gosh, it happened again!

“Facebook Gave Out User Data Despite Pledge,” The Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2018 A1. Notwithstanding a commitment not to do so, Facebook continued to give some companies access to user information.

How many times can you lie before people call you a liar?  Or take judicial notice?  What is the culture at Facebook?  Who’s responsible?  Accountable?

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Filed under Access, Board, Compliance, Compliance (General), Controls, Corporation, Culture, Culture, Duty, Duty of Care, Governance, Information, Internal controls, Oversight, Ownership, Privacy, Protect assets

Details matter

“New Math: Firms Repair CEO Pay Flubs,” The Wall Street Journal, May 31, 2018 B4. Lots of mistakes being made in disclosure about how much money the CEO really makes.

Curious as to why all the mistakes are reports that are too low rather than too high?  Except for Warren Buffett, who gets paid $100,000 a year, but also gets ~$400,000 in security services at his home, where he works a lot.

What does it say when the even the company doesn’t know what the CEO gets paid?  Isn’t this information that they should manage a bit better?

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Filed under Accuracy, Communications, Compliance (General), Controls, Corporation, Data quality, Duty, Governance, Internal controls, Oversight, To report

Compelled speech

“HHS Probes Rules on Giving Abortion Information,” The Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2018 A4.  HHS Office for Civil Rights investigates state requirements that crisis pregnancy centers must advise women about abortion services.

Leave the political/moral issues aside, and look at this from an information governance perspective.  Who mandates what information you must provide to your customers?  And are they (the mandaters) allowed to require that?

What are the limits on the government’s ability to require you to provide information to third parties? Is the U.S. Constitution a law or a policy?  Or is it Governance?

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Filed under Communications, Compliance, Compliance (General), Controls, Corporation, Duty, Governance, Government, Internal controls, Third parties, Who is in charge?

Tracking who sees what

“Goldman Employee Is Arrested,” The Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2018 B8. A banker now on leave from his job at Goldman Sachs charged with insider trading.  He allegedly accessed information about upcoming mergers and acquisitions and then traded stocks.

‘The bank’s internal records show he accessed information about the deals when he placed his trades….”

Your company no doubt tracks who accesses what information on your computer systems, right?  And connects the dots when you buy stock later?

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Filed under Access, Compliance, Compliance (General), Controls, Corporation, Duty, Employees, Governance, Information, Interconnections, Internal controls, IT, Oversight