Practically Extinct small

Records created in the course of public administration and subject to public records legislation but created on unofficial channels and platforms and therefore subject to unlawful destruction whether by accident or design.

Group: Digital Legal Records

Trend: New Entry

Unanimous Decision

Added to List: 2019

Last update: 2019

Previous category: New Entry

Imminence of Action

Immediate action necessary.  Where detected they should be stabilised and reported as a matter of urgency

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

Loss seems likely: by the time tools or techniques have been developed the material will likely have been lost.


Content and messages from cloud based instant messaging services (such as WhatsApp Telegram or Snapchat) that pertains to public administration and is subject to public records legislation but concealed from or inaccessible to archival agencies. 

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Archival pathway; public officials briefed on the nature of public records and the penalties for illegal disposal; boundary between public and private correspondence; cloud services administered transparently; export functions.

2019 Review

This is a subset of an entry in the 2018 BitList for ‘Digital Legal Records and Evidence’ which the Jury has decided to separate into four different entries in order to draw attention to the different challenges and priorities that arise.  The Jury has subsequently given this entry the strongest indication of risk available.  This group includes those records which may contain politically damaging or uncomfortable realities and thus be at risk of deletion; and may be concealed from archival agencies whether by accident or design.  The judges note that the destruction of certain classes of public records is unlawful, whether or not it is deliberate.

Additional Jury Comments

This is a "small effort to fix" in terms of the technology to export data. But loss seems likely unless there is stronger monitoring and enforcement of the policy around this.

Agencies responsible for public record will not be able to completely control their public servants use of unofficial channels (but could tighten) so need methods to obtain from unofficial channels. Very important for public accountability and transparency of the state.

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