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Global Relay’s Complete Guide to Website Archiving

23 May 2024 8 mins read
By Jennie Clarke

What is website archiving?

Website archiving is the process of capturing all information published on your website, and storing it in a secure, robust archive to meet regulatory requirements and guidelines Website archiving allows you to capture, archive, and monitor all current and historical data published on your website, so your compliance and legal teams are prepared in the event of an investigation or audit.

How to archive a website

The simplest and most effective way to archive an entire website is to employ the services of a third-party archiving solution. Compliance technology firms, such as Global Relay, have out-of-the-box solutions that enable firms to archive a website without the need for complicated configurations. These solutions are automated, and ensure that an auditable history of your website data is archived every time a change occurs.

Other legacy techniques could be to routinely save web pages to a hard drive, and manually upload those pages into an archive. This is an incredibly manual process, and one that requires considerable resource when compared to automated data Connector solutions. This manual approach also leaves room for potential manual error and compliance gaps, and would require an individual to re-save website pages every time an update is made. If your firm has a particularly active website, or updates prices and offers each day, manual options will ultimately be ineffective.

Tools such as the Wayback Machine exist which allow you to look back at pages through time. However, as highlighted by Internet Archive, this still requires considerable manual effort. Anecdotally, some firms opt to back up their CMS systems, assuming this would be a fail-safe. However, this method again lacks important functionality and risks the loss of metadata and critical information when being saved, parsed, and transferred into a compliant archive.

Ultimately, the only effective way to archive a modern, functional website, is to opt for an automated tool.

Why does an organization need to archive websites?

Organizations are faced with increased regulatory scrutiny concerning how they communicate with customers, prospects, and the general public, and company websites are often one of the key channels of these communications. Organizations must archive websites to ensure they meet regulatory requirements, and so they can retrace their footsteps in the event that something goes wrong. Website archiving is particularly essential in the event of customer complaints, as firms will need to demonstrate what was communicated to a customer at any given time. If, for instance, a customer had been promised a certain price presented on a website, which had since been updated, website archiving would be essential to look back at what information that customer received and to decide whether their complaint should be upheld. This is also increasingly important to satisfy requirements in line with the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Marketing Rule. 

Is it a legal requirement to archive your company website?

The legal and regulatory requirements to capture and archive company websites are established, though relatively unknown. Generally speaking, requirements sit within the fine print of longstanding regulatory rules. In particular, the SEC, FINRA, and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) all have regulations requiring that organizations capture website information. Over the course of 2023 and 2024, the industry has started to see incidents where firms have seen enforcement action for failing to conduct website archiving.

Some key rules include:

The SEC’s Marketing Rule

The SEC’s Marketing Rule came into effect on November 4, 2022, and requires firms to have oversight of how their employees communicate with customers and prospects through advertising campaigns, social media, and websites. In September 2023, the SEC charged nine investment advisers a total of $850,000 in combined penalties for advertising “hypothetical performance to the general public on their websites”. In this instance, the capture and preservation of website data would have been critical to regulatory investigation and its outcomes.

The SEC’s Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI)

Reg BI came into force in June 2019, and is the U.S. equivalent of the U.K.’s Consumer Duty. The regulation establishes a “best interest” standard of conduct which says:

“You must meet new record-making and recordkeeping requirements with respect to certain information collected from or provided to retail customers in connection with Regulation Best Interest […] You must retain all records of the information collected from or provided to each retail customer for at least six years after the earlier of the date the account was closed or the date on which the information was replaced or updated”.

It stands to reason that if these communications are taking place through the medium of marketing, or a corporate website, firms will need to capture that communication to demonstrate compliance.

The Financial Conduct Authority’s Consumer Duty

The FCA’s Consumer Duty came into force at the end of July 2023. Among other things, it governs how financial services should communicate with customers. It asks that consumers “get communications they can understand, products and services that meet their needs and offer fair value, and get the customer support they need, when they need it.”

Consumer Duty is a far-reaching obligation, but carries within it a need for firms to capture and preserve the interactions that they have with customers. As with Reg BI, if these communications are promoted on a website, firms must archive their website data too.

The FCA’s ‘Finfluencer’ focus

The FCA has said that it is using tools to assess website and social media data. In 2022, it assessed “around 180,000 websites, which resulted in just over 4,500 website and social media platforms being reviewed.” It stands to reason that if the FCA is checking the information that a firm is publishing on their corporate website, the expectation is that firms will be conducting similar reviews and archiving website data in order to do so. Other important rules include the FCA Handbook SYSC, MiFID II, and SEC Rule 17a-3 and 17a-4.

How to protect your business from compliance risks, with Global Relay

Global Relay enables financial organizations to communicate compliantly, and to capture, archive, and monitor business communication, including website data. Through a series of data Connectors, Global Relay empowers firms to connect data from any source into a compliant archive, and capture all communications.

When it comes to website archiving, Global Relay for Website and Blog Archiving is a Connector that ensures your website and all its ongoing changes are captured and archived compliantly. This means that, in the event of regulatory or legal audit, you have a clear view of the information that has been published on your corporate website. When archiving your entire website with Global Relay, digital snapshots are created, meaning you have an auditable record of exactly what your site showed to the public at a given point in time.

With Global Relay services including legal hold and eDiscovery, you can ensure that all your critical website data is preserved and structured in a way that makes it easy for your teams to locate, analyze, and present relevant, accurate, and complete data against tight deadlines. 

How do I find and view an archived website?

Generally speaking, without a third-party archiving tool, it can be difficult to view an entire archived website in one place. Tools such as Wayback Machine allow you to see websites as they existed historically, but this is not strictly a website archiving solution. For financial institutions, this is not a compliant or viable solution, as there is no clear means of seeing an entire website, or of displaying the data in the event of an investigation. There is also uncertainty about who owns that data, for how long it is retained, and whether certain pages may be hidden from public view. This gives firms an incomplete view of their website archive.

With a third-party compliance solution such as Global Relay, website archiving occurs automatically meaning your website data is connected to a compliant archive in near-real time. This allows you to see all your current and historical website data in one place, when you want, with certainty that all pages and metadata have been captured and stored securely. Finding your archived website data in this instance would be as simple as logging in to your Global Relay Archive and conducting a simple search.

If you’d like to know more about how you can meet regulatory requirements through website archiving, please get in touch.

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Published 23 May 2024

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