Infographic: Government Sector Guide for Creating a Text Messaging Policy

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The increasing usage of mobile devices in the government sector, the Freedom of Information Act, and the bewildering array of regulations concerning the archiving and release of government information and documents, all points to one conclusion: Government agencies need to establish a clear policy to manage the use of SMS messaging within and outside their offices.

Lately, the government sector has been in the spotlight due to the increasing concern of using consumer-based text messaging apps to instantly communicate with the general public. While widely used, text messaging, in general, presents a plethora of security and privacy concerns that can impair government organization’s communication efforts.

To address such issues in mobile compliance, it is only necessary for government agencies to protect data sent to and from their mobile devices by establishing an accurate and detailed text messaging policy.  Read on as we detail in this infographic the fundamental steps government agencies should follow to create an effective text messaging policy.

Government Sector Guide for Creating a Text Messaging Policy

1. Identify the Applicable Regulatory and Legal Requirements

The first step to creating an effective text messaging policy is to identify all the rules and regulations that apply to the agency. Different rules affect the type and retention period of government text message archive requirements. To learn more about the 50 state text archiving requirements, check out our infographic: US State Map of Public Record Treatment of Texting.

After identifying relevant laws and regulations, the next step would be discussing these rules with key stakeholders — including the agency’s legal counsel, human resources, compliance officer, records-retention office, and other department heads — to make sure they fully understand and implement the requirements.

2. Specify the Devices That Will Be Permitted

The applicability of the Freedom of Information Acts applies not to only government-issued devices; they also apply to business-related texts sent on personal devices. Therefore, it is critical to determine whether the text messaging policy will prohibit the employees from using personal devices while fulfilling their roles and responsibilities.

By allowing employees to use a personal device on the job, the policy should indicate when and how to document messages. On the other hand, the text messaging policy should also specify whether government-issued devices can be used to send personal text messages as well.

Another issue to consider is if the agency allows the use of iPhones or other iOS devices. If so, the text message policy should require users to refrain from using iMessage because the texts sent and received on that platform can be very difficult to archive.

3. Identify the Employees Authorized to Use Text Messaging

Depending on the mobile communication needs of the agency, the text messaging policy should also clarify if all the employees will be permitted to use SMS messaging on the job. If the intended purpose of text messaging is to engage with the public, like sending public service announcements and incident alerts, then the policy should specify who will be responsible for maintaining said channel.

If the intended use of text messaging – aside from using it as a public communication tool – is as a peer-to-peer communication medium, then the policy should also clarify what type of information authorized employees can send to their colleagues. If personal device texts are archived, the policy should make clear to employees that they will have to enable access to their mobile devices.

4. Train Employees for Proper Text Message Archiving

Lastly, the policy must set the guidelines on how text messages must be documented. It should dictate employees to refrain from using screenshots, email forwarding, wireless carrier records, or spreadsheets to archive text messages. To ensure that these mistakes are avoided, the agency should incorporate an archiving platform that can help automate the recordkeeping and records-request process.

For employees to fully understand the proper procedure for text message archiving, the policy should set the basis for training programs. Aside from the basic rules to be discussed in the training, the policy should also specify who will be in charge, how long it will take, and what participants should expect from the program.

At TeleMessage, we offer our Mobile Archiver that can help government agencies and offices to efficiently manage data and content including enterprise SMS, emails, and web and social media content, concerning compliance. Our archiving solution is equipped with versioning, and robust governance capabilities that ensure content across all digital channels is compliant and meets global regulatory requirements.

To learn more about mobile archiving solutions, visit our website today at

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