Having introduced our new products Arvitam™ and deepeo™ over the past year, Infotel’s involvement in the world of digital preservation, data archiving, and records information management continues to grow. In 2023 we assisted a regional chapter of ARMA in Tennessee and North Georgia to help them reengage after several down years due to the pandemic, we returned as sponsors of ARMA InfoCon (Detroit), sponsored iPres (University of Illinois) for the first time in the U.S.A., and attended our first NAGARA (Cincinnati) and IAPP (Washington, DC) conferences.

While the majority of our involvement in this space has come on the heels of the latest releases of Arvitam and deepeo, our long history in enterprise IT has contributed to our deep understanding of what it means to serve in highly regulated industries and manage data safely, effectively, and ethically in today’s digital world.

As we approach the end of the year, we thought it would be appropriate to reflect on some of the most important conversations (and revelations) we’ve had in 2023 with clients, peers, and friends in the industry.

With our parent company Infotel headquartered in France, we’ve developed an interesting perspective when it comes to the differing corporate culture around data preservation between U.S. and European organizations. When the EU enacted the GDPR in 2016, it marked a defining moment in how differently the governing bodies of Europe and the US viewed the role of regulators when it comes to protecting citizens’ digital privacy, and it has had a profound effect on digital preservation.

However, the two differing approaches to privacy here have existed for a long time.

To appreciate the importance of GDPR and the subsequent progress in data protection, we need to go back to a grim period in history; World War II. During this time, the Nazis exploited and publicly disclosed a vast amount of personal information data, making it easier and encouraging the mass persecution and ultimate genocide of Jews. This grave breach of privacy laid the foundation for the comprehensive data protection regulations we know today. In 1995, the European Data Protection Directive was introduced, serving as a response to these concerns.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and GDPR emerged as a more robust framework for data protection. GDPR was created in response to the revelation that the personal information of citizens was at risk in new and concerning ways in the digital age and the regulation sought to address the shortcomings of the earlier directive. GDPR represented a significant stride in data privacy, placing individuals’ rights over governments’ in many aspects of handling citizens’ data. Since its implementation, organizations worldwide have had to adapt to its strict data protection requirements, affecting their data handling and archiving practices.

Amid the backdrop of stringent data regulations and evolving technology, our product developers at Infotel have been hard at work developing solutions to address these changing corporate and government landscapes.

Arvitam, a data archiving and preservation solution, resulted from this work and caters to the needs of large enterprises subject to different regulations around the world. Arvitam offers a comprehensive solution for data archiving and management while helping to ensure compliance with data governance standards such as the GDPR.

Deepeo, our sister product to Arvitam, is a robust data management solution that performs housekeeping tasks across hundreds of databases to manage data deletion according to specific data retention policies. It’s an excellent tool to help maintain compliance of data within the relevant GDPR laws in any country as well as any country for which a data subject resides or operates.

Seven years after the introduction of the GDPR, organizations in the United States and the European Union still grapple with the challenge of fragmented data standards, primarily due to the absence of unified regulations imposed by the federal government. For instance, organizations must navigate standards set by associations such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), each with its unique requirements. Furthermore, individual U.S. states are establishing their distinct data standards, while the federal government introduces a multitude of regulatory frameworks, including FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act), FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), various ISOs (International Organization for Standardization), and more. This convoluted landscape of data standards and regulations has left security and privacy managers in an unenviable position, struggling to keep up with the ever-expanding maze of laws and standards. Finding a solution to streamline and harmonize these disparate requirements is becoming increasingly critical to enable organizations to effectively manage data privacy and security while avoiding a bureaucratic nightmare.

More Than Just Ones and Zeros

While Arvitam addresses the technical facets of data archiving and preservation, it is crucial to recognize that data is not just a collection of ones and zeros; it’s a repository of human stories and knowledge. This was underscored in a particularly enlightening presentation at iPRES in Champaign, Illinois this year discussing the digital preservation of indigenous Native Americans who were forcibly displaced from their ancestral lands. The data related to these communities holds immense value in comprehending their history, culture, and heritage. So, too, will future collections of human knowledge be important for us to preserve.

This perspective underscores the human aspect of digital preservation. It reminds us that it’s not merely about satisfying regulatory mandates but about preserving human stories, cultures, and history. There must be a humanitarian dimension to archiving and digital preservation, acknowledging that the data we safeguard often holds the key to our shared past and future.

We hope Arvitam and our greater emphasis on digital preservation and data archiving serves as a reminder that digital preservation is not just about technology; it’s about safeguarding the collective knowledge, culture, and history of humanity. As we embark on a new year, Arvitam reminds us that technology and humanity can and should coexist harmoniously in the realm of data archiving and preservation.

As we wrap up the year at Infotel, we’re excited to see how Arvitam can address this important task. Its emphasis on digital preservation, modernization, data governance, and compliance aligns with the evolving data protection landscape, and it stands against a backdrop of important reminders from our global history that this task shouldn’t be taken for granted.