When you write an email to a list that runs on Google Groups, do you know who gets to see that message? “The people on the list, in their email” would be a natural response. That’s correct, but did you know that Google Groups also keeps a web archive of list postings as well? And that the default is to allow “all organization members” to browse the web archive? In our case “all organization members” means all faculty, students and staff as well as most alumni. This may not be what you desire, so please make sure to check your configuration options when you create a new group. It is the very first option in basic permissions on the group creation page. Unfortunately, Google staff tell us that it is not possible to change the default to something more restrictive than “all organization members”. So please be careful when you are creating a new list.
We recently audited the permissions on Google Groups and contacted the owners of lists that were set to be viewable by all organization members. We will do this from time to time in the future too.
You may also want to consider turning off web archiving completely. This is especially the case if sensitive information is distributed and perhaps should not be seen by future list members. To do so, you can delete all the current messages and then, on the configuration page, go to “Information->Advanced”.
There are several advantages to web archives: easy access to all messages together in one place, ability to link to a particular message (rather than forwarding it) and an easily searchable archive of all postings.