Digital Records

Digital tools continue to become the standard way of doing work. Even though these are not physical records, work done on these digital platforms are still records and may be subject to retention.

University records, including but not limited to public records and education records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), should be maintained in UO-managed or licensed storage solutions.  These records should not be stored, forwarded, or otherwise maintained separately in external or non-university storage solutions where the university’s legal or other duties as the custodian of the records cannot be discharged.  

First, university public records are the university’s property.  The university’s University Records Management policy, Policy IV.10.01, states:

“University Public Record” means any book, document, paper, file, photograph, sound recording, computerized recording in machine or electronic storage, records or other materials, regardless of physical form or characteristic, made, received, filed or recorded at the University pursuant to law or in connection with the transaction of any University business or activity, whether or not confidential or restricted in use or access. These records constitute University property.

Second, the university has specific legal obligations regarding its property and records.  The University Records Management policy continues:

Oregon law states that Oregon public bodies “have a responsibility to ensure orderly retention and destruction of all public records, whether current or noncurrent, and to ensure the preservation of public records of value for administrative, legal and research purposes.” The University of Oregon…is subject to recordkeeping requirements established by state and federal laws. Reliable, authentic, complete records evidence decision-making and serve as primary vehicles for demonstrating compliance with policies and laws; preserving institutional memory; and, promoting business continuity. 

In addition to the “orderly retention” obligations described above, the university also must be able to respond to valid public records requests, provide student access to education records under FERPA, and organize records in the face of litigation, grievances or complaints.  These legal and other duties would be frustrated, if not impossible, if employees or students moved university records to storage solutions external to the university.

And, separate, but related to the university’s obligation to manage public records as custodian under Oregon Revised Statute Chapter 192, it is possible that moving records to an inaccessible, external storage system may constitute a crime under Oregon law.  Oregon Revised Statute 162.305(1) states:

A person commits the crime of tampering with public records if, without lawful authority, the person knowingly destroys, mutilates, conceals, removes, makes a false entry in or falsely alters any public record…”  Emphasis added.

University records must be stored in university-managed or licensed storage solutions.  Employees or students may contact their department's Records Steward for assistance with proper storage solutions of university records.