The archiving of information and documents takes up more and more space in the modern information society. On the one hand, the number of new documents, whether paper-based or already electronic, increases every year. On the other hand, legal and organizational regulations demand that these documents are maintained for many years or even many decades. It is not unusual for business documents relating to tax to be archived for 10 years, or over 30 years for documents in the health sector and up to over 90 years in the plant engineering or aircraft industries. In addition to the length of time for the archiving, the scope of the information that is to be archived also changes. If this was restricted several years ago to relatively few documents that are seen as business-relevant in organizations, all communication between business partners and within an organization is coming to the fore as a result of rules, e.g. SOX or the more generally formatted “Compliance”. This particularly affects the archiving of e-mails, which has come to represent a fundamental medium of business communication. The legal obligations that must be observed and the options and restrictions of e-mail archiving are dealt with by Jens Bücking in his presentation “Compliance for e-mails and digital documents: Legal questions concerning archiving and verifiable data”. In addition to basic questions about the need and acceptance of archiving e-mails, he uses the legal judgements and specifications to go into great detail about the questions regarding the archive format that is used and how long the documents are to be archived.
Since PDF/A was the first to standardize a document format for long-term archiving that is very suitable for archiving different document types and is also suitable for PDF, we must pay careful attention to several aspects regarding the conversion of PDF documents to PDF/A. This particularly concerns the handling of character sets that must be embedded in order to achieve a reproduction of a document according to the PDF/A standard that is true to the original. The presentation by François Fernandes “Reproducibility of Archived Documents” deals with the hazards that you must consider when converting PDF documents.
One of the main advantages of PDF/A is that it supports embedded electronic signatures. This means that, for scanned documents, electronic invoices, forms and contracts, you can have a legally binding signature or their contents can be fixed reliably. The exchange of these types of PDF/A documents across national borders is the theme of the presentation by Enrico Entschew “Legal Requirements of Cross-Border Signed Documents”. While the conversion of PDF documents to PDF/A has been slowly developing into an established practice, the use of the ISO format during the archiving of e-mails is still in the early stages. Among other things, this is to do with the fact that an e-mail often does not represent a homogenous document but is more of a container for various file formats. The requirements that occur for this and the relevant approaches are the theme of the last presentation by Dr. Bernd Wild “The Challenges in Archiving E-mails with PDF/A”.