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Archives as a trusted third party in maintaining and preserving digital records in the cloud environment

Wei Guo (College of Management and Economics, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China)
Yun Fang (College of Management and Economics, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China and Tianjin Municipal Archives, Tianjin, China)
Weimei Pan (School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
Dekun Li (Electronic Archives Information Department, Tianjin Municipal Archives, Tianjin, China)

Records Management Journal

ISSN: 0956-5698

Publication date: 18 July 2016

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present a case wherein a public archive intervenes in maintaining and preserving digital records (including underlying technological infrastructure) created by a private company to protect the trustworthiness of records, thereby helping the company to discharge their accountability.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper details the intervention of Tianjin Municipal Archives in the management of the records of Tianjin Otis Elevator Co., Ltd, the technical infrastructure that enables and supports such configuration, the issues encountered and the theoretical implications of this case.

Findings

This case suggests that not only does the concept of archives as a trusted third party remain relevant in the changing technological environment but also, in certain cases (e.g. wherein the supplier of evidentiary documents holds a monopoly over an industry), archives are becoming increasingly critical in maintaining the reliability and authenticity of digital records in the cloud environment.

Research limitations/implications

Given the challenges raised by the emerging cloud environment, it is vital to develop a renewed understanding of the concept of archives as a trusted third party, the relationship between archives and commercial third party services and the relationship between public archives and private records. Furthermore, this case identifies the need to re-examine archival methodologies to protect the authenticity of structured data.

Originality/value

This case exemplifies how archives can help private organizations address issues related to guaranteeing and demonstrating the evidential nature of digital records and provides empirical evidence for archives being conceptualized as a trusted third party in maintaining and preserving digital records.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge the help of Tianjin Otis Elevator Co., Ltd., which made this paper possible. Valuable comments by the anonymous reviewers are also gratefully acknowledged for improving an earlier version of this paper.

Citation

Guo, W., Fang, Y., Pan, W. and Li, D. (2016), "Archives as a trusted third party in maintaining and preserving digital records in the cloud environment", Records Management Journal, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 170-184. https://doi.org/10.1108/RMJ-07-2015-0028

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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