What you should and should not record in MS Outlook and Teams

Did you know that everything you record in Outlook and Teams can be subject to a Freedom of Information (FOI) or General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) request?

Most of us are accustomed to using Outlook on a daily basis for work. And our use of MS Teams has increased hugely since we started working from home.

While these communication tools offer many benefits, it is important to remember that anything we record in them is not our private correspondence and can be requested, either under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOI) or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It may then be released into the public domain or to those you have been corresponding about.

What type of information can be requested?

Requests made under FOI can be for any type of information recorded, including posts, chats, files and recordings on Teams, and emails and calendar appointments in Outlook.

Requests made under GDPR are for personal information that has been recorded about individuals. Any individual has the right to request access to information held about them and, in most cases, this will be provided to them.

What does this mean for us?

Each of us should be mindful of what we record on University systems. At all times we need to be accurate in our recording, respectful of others, and record only what is necessary.

Unfortunately, the way in which we record information does not always reflect this best practice. For example, requests made to the University reveal instances where individuals are referred to in an inaccurate and disrespectful way. This information routinely has to be released, even if it causes embarrassment for those involved.

In addition, our work communications often include non-work conversations; this may also have to be released, or at least redacted before information can be released. 

Where can we go for help?

To help, the Information Governance Team have created a quick reference guide with hints and tips on best practice – see Recording information in Outlook and Teams.

And if you need further guidance on what you should record and what systems you should use, please contact the Information Governance Team at dpa@abdn.ac.uk


Author: Information Governance Team