Can Your Document Delete Itself?

Automatically delete documentA lot of us wish that emails and files we send could delete themselves immediately or after a few days.  Sometimes it’s because we accidentally sent something to the wrong person; I’ve had a lot of those oops moments lately.  Other times its because the information is time sensitive.

The last time I wanted to purchase a product for my company, I sent an RFP to numerous vendors.  As part of the process I shared sensitive corporate information and other requirements with them.  The process of solicitation and response took about 60 days.  Once I made a decision on a vendor and solution, I wanted the other vendors to delete my sensitive content.  I can only hope they did, but I have no way of really verifying it.

If I set a validity time for the sensitive documents, they would no longer be accessible once the time passed.  Even though the responding vendors still had the documents, they wouldn’t be able to access the content inside them.  If they made copies of the documents or saved them as a PDF, the same policy would apply.  Once time expires all copies and derivatives are no longer accessible.  If I had an immediate need to kill access, I could do that regardless of the document’s expiration date.  That’s a good way to resolve my oops.

Think about this for other documents.  How about a price list you share with your resellers?  If they no longer resell your product, you don’t want that information in their hands.  Maybe you share product drawings or manufacturing specifications with vendors.  HR or financial documents could be the same.  If you are working with an outside company to prepare your quarterly financial reports or payroll, you don’t want this information published before its time.  You can set a validity time in the future, before which the files are not accessible.

Encrypting a document and setting an expiration date prevents someone from accessing the contents after that date.  It’s a good as your document deleting itself.


Photo credit Ervins Strauhmanis

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