Recent Developments in SEC, DOJ and Civil Litigation Efforts Targeting Off‑Channel Electronic Communications

There is a rising concern in the private funds industry about the use of electronic communications for business purposes and how firms navigate their regulatory obligations with respect to third-party messaging platforms. Recent enforcement actions have resulted in eye-watering fines for violations relating to off-channel communications, making it clear that the stakes are high for non-compliance. Scrutiny is not limited to the SEC, however. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and other regulators are also examining companies’ practices, along with increasing civil litigation on the topic. Emerging developments and risks associated with using third-party messaging platforms were addressed in a recent Reed Smith webinar featuring government enforcement partners, Daniel H. Ahn and Mark E. Bini, as well as technology and data partners, Therese Craparo and Anthony J. Diana. This article summarizes key takeaways from the panel, including the increase in regulatory scrutiny, recent DOJ guidance, applicable developments in civil litigation and best practices to ensure compliance with recordkeeping obligations. For additional insights from Craparo, see “How to Conduct Effective Privacy and Data Security Diligence to Ensure Value Realization in Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures” (Dec. 14, 2021). 

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