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Slack records

Back to Slack page

All Slack messages are potentially records, and are subject to FOIA. Therefore, assume everything you share/do in Slack will be made public, and attributed back to you. Treat Slack as a public forum — you have no privacy. Don’t say something on Slack that you wouldn’t feel comfortable appearing on the news. This includes:

Records policy

Per the mandatory General Records Schedule 3.1 issued by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), everything in Slack channels and groups is considered at minimum a temporary record.

To ensure compliance with the possibility that we might create permanent or long-lived records in Slack, the records retention policy is set to retain all messages forever AND also retain edit and deletion logs for all messages. Users are prohibited from deleting messages. Do not abuse the edit command in Slack to effectively delete your message by replacing it with null or symbolic content. Edits for clarity or typos are fine. If any bot or integration ever posts something inappropriate, please call for a clean-up in #admins-slack using @slackadmin.

This policy applies to all types of Slack communications: public channels, private groups, even direct messages. Nothing is private. We use the Corporate Export capability in Slack to get the data and filter using the slack-export-handling tool.

During regular operations, only the Slack Owners have access to the exports. There is no regular monitoring of these messages, but they have been reviewed in the past. Various legal actions (for example, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request) or security operations approved by the TTS Tech Portfolio Director have required others to view the exports. The team will continue to be notified at the earliest possible time that the exports have been accessed. Notifications of access may not be made in realtime.

Exporting channel contents

There is not an easy way to export the contents of a single channel, for partners or otherwise. If you really want, you can:

  1. Open the Slack channel in Chrome
  2. Take a screenshot
  3. Scroll up
  4. Repeat

These, of course, will be images, so they unfortunately won’t be searchable.

Working with records

When GSA gets audit or FOIA requests for Slack messages, the slack-export-handling tool is used for searching/filtering.