Toyota, Electronic Documents and Reputation

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I've griped about Google a lot lately, but it seems Toyota is in even deeper trouble. U.S. legislators have launched an investigation into how early the automaker knew there was a problem before it announced the recent recalls.


According to the Los Angeles Times:

lawmakers said Thursday that they were planning further hearings scrutinizing both Toyota and [(the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration,] the federal agency that oversees it.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will be looking into the matter.


The NHTSA haa also recently requested documents from Toyota to determine if the recalls were made "in a timely manner." That, according to Recommind VP Craig Carpenter, is where information technology, and more specifically, discovery of electronically stored information, comes into play.


In a blog post last week, Carpenter said:

Because the aforementioned House [Oversight and Government Reform] Committee has subpoena power and can use any documentation produced by Toyota to the NHTSA ... the situation has morphed from a PR issue to a major, "bet the business" investigation.

If there are inconsistencies between what the company has said publicly and what the documents show, Toyota will have an even bigger problem on its hands.


The entire situation is a nice reminder of the importance of brand reputation, as well as how what you've said in an e-mail or an instant message or other memo could easily come back to haunt you.