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Gillette Reportedly Deleted E-Mail Evidence

Proofpoint says this is the latest in a series of incidents in which e-mail is a smoking gun.
In what is apparently another incident of intentional e-mail destruction, Proofpoint reported today that Gillette has disclosed in a filing in Massachusetts Superior Court that senior executives may have deleted e-mails that are subject to a subpoena from Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin.

It was reported in the Boston Globe and the Cincinnatti Business Courier that the company is currently under investigation regarding shareholder allegations that Gillette may have sold out to Procter & Gamble at an unacceptably low price. Galvin has called the incident an embarrassing "dog ate my homework" defense because e-mails at the company are saved on multiple machines. Normal backup mechanisms in large corporations generally make complete deletion very difficult.

In a comment on the incident, Proofpoint notes that while 74.4 percent of surveyed large corporations have adopted formal e-mail retention policies, only 18.1 percent have deployed technology to enforce such policies. The gap has created a new role for e-mail as a "de facto automated smoking gun" for corporations, making them rich targets for investigators, such as New York's Elliot Spitzer who has used e-mail evidence in all of his recent high-profile business fraud and abuse cases.

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