Hi there, we are filerskeepers and we read all the laws in the world in search of records retention obligations applicable to companies. We are not kidding. Today we are on some US state and tomorrow we will move on to the Isle of Man. Many people wonder, “why on earth would someone in his right mind try to read all the laws in the world? It is daft and impossible!”. Well, we agree with the fact that our project sometimes borders at complete insanity, but when we complete researching yet another country and publish it on our website it feels just so rewarding. And you now what? We are not going to stop until we have covered all the laws in the world.
Do you really read all the laws in the world?
Yes, we do read them all! We are looking for records retention obligations, which are included in virtually any kind of law. From civil laws to criminal laws, from regulatory to highly specialized industry laws. As we want to collect all these obligations, we have to read all the laws. We do this by country or industry. We start at “A” and walk all the way up to “Z”.
What do you mean by that?
Well for each country we research the laws and subsidiary legislation to check how long companies should store their data. When we are done, we make sure to also cover regulatory guidance. There are a lot of interesting and important retention obligations following from regulatory guidance!
What do you mean by records retention obligations? What are you looking for?
A records retention obligation is a legal rule that tells you when and for how long to keep a certain document or piece of information. A records retention period can be a maximum retention period, telling you when you are no longer allowed to keep a record. When the maximum period has ended you should destroy that record. A minimum records retention period tells you when you should keep a record at a minimum. When the record retention period has ended you may still keep the record but you no longer have to (unless there is another retention law that tells you to keep or destroy the record).
But why are you reading all the laws in the world?
filerskeepers believes that companies should be able to know all retention periods that apply to them. It is our goal to make sure that companies all over the world and in all industries will be up to date about the latest data retention periods. At any time.
How long have you been at it?
We have been researching countries and industries on all continents for 2.5 years now. During this time, we have refined our search strategies, our taxonomy, our methodology and deepened our understand of countries, industries and legal systems.
How many have you done so far?
We have researched over 90 countries and we will not stop until we have researched all countries, industries and laws.
You probably don’t have knowledge of our company’s industry!
Well, we always say… why don’t you give us a try. Very often we hear from specialists in various countries that they couldn’t have done a better job. We cover virtually any industry. We are particularly proud of our research in the financial regulatory, healthcare (including medical device and pharma), food, manufacturing, professional services, retail, telecommunications and veterinarian industries. We tackle an industry in the broadest sense and make sure to take on board all the topics the competent regulators in the industry are competent to enforce on. To ensure we do not miss anything we do not limit ourselves to certain actors like pharmaceuticals or banks. We make sure to include any actor active in the industry. Where in doubt we cooperate in close consultation with partners and customers who are active in a given industry.
How many retention obligations are there you reckon?
We expect to find around between 250,000 and 500,000 retention obligations globally. But there could be more. We will let you know when we get there.
Why don’t you just ask a bunch of law firms to do it? How do you ensure your quality?
Out of principle, we keep all research inhouse as we believe it is better to have one methodology and one way of reporting. This is how we ensure consistency between countries and industries. Whether you believe it or not, but we are absolutely certain that our team will beat a law firm any day in terms of completeness and quality. You should see filerskeepers as a highly specialized research facility. Of course, we face challenges too. Where in doubt we engage a certified translator or local law firm or a second opinion. We have a panel of US and EU law firms who provide an ongoing second opinion on all schedules we publish. We also have a growing community of over hundreds of multinationals from various industries which intensively use our schedules and constantly ask questions about our schedules.
How do you keep the laws up to date?
We keep automated track of changes in the law, do at minimum a manual check twice a year on each country.
Can’t you do this via algorithms?
Although lots of our work is manual, who says we do not use algorithms?
Isn’t that really boring work?
Haha, we find it rather interesting! There is so much to learn about the world. And what is a better place to learn something about a country, its culture and industries than by studying their laws?
How do you decide which country is next?
We work via a roadmap, which you can find here. It is basically an upvoting system. Any company can tell us which country they want to do next. The more votes we get for a certain country. The higher up it comes on our roadmap. If a company wants to receive a country ahead of our roadmap, they can ask us for a fast track service level. In that case, we scale up our team to do the research.
You guys must be very smart and a tat weird, right?
I guess so, the founders of filerskeepers have a background as top tier data protection lawyers. We consider them smart and a bit weird. Why else would you read all the laws in the world right? But I guess you would have to judge that for yourself!
filerskeepers provides multinationals insight into how long they should store their data based on legal requirements. We provide data retention schedules and the first ever data retention API to give insight into the legal maximum and minimum retention periods applicable in the countries relevant to them. This helps companies to justify why they are storing data (“for compliance with income tax rules”) and for how long (“for 10 years from the date following the end of the book year”). We currently have almost 100 countries online with many more underway!