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Legal 08.22.18 BLOG 

How Will Slack’s New Data Export Options Affect E-Discovery?

By TransPerfect Legal Solutions

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How Will Slack’s New Data Export Options Affect E-Discovery?

Since our last post in March 2018, Slack made several significant changes to their data export options that are important for e-discovery professionals to be aware of.

Standard Export

Standard export still exists for all plans, and allows workspace owners and admins to export public channel content from their workspaces. Channel messages will be exported in a JSON format, which will contain links to attachments. This is important to note for discovery professionals because attachments will need to be downloaded from Slack for review—they aren’t directly provided in the standard export.

RIP Compliance Export

Previously, Slack referred to their export tool as the “compliance export,” which was the upgrade option for certain plans that allowed workspace owners and admins to export private channel and private message data. This came at an additional cost to Slack users. More often than not, our clients did not have this export option in place.

As I mentioned in our last post, the compliance export has two significant downsides for e-discovery. First, it’s returned in JSON format, which is not ideal for legal review. Second, after-purchase, private channel, and message data was only available from that day forward. This meant that historical data—typically something of interest for legal teams—was inaccessible.


As of May 25, 2018—the date of GDPR implementation—Slack replaced compliance export with “corporate export.” Corporate export is available for Plus plans at no additional charge; however, in an effort to ensure GDPR and general legal privacy compliance, Slack now requires users to submit an application to gain access to their workspace private channels and private message data. Additionally, Slack requires the submission of either legal process, employee consent, or a requirement under applicable law. One of these documents must be submitted with the application, otherwise it will most likely be rejected.

Slack Enterprise

Not much changed for Slack Enterprise users. They can still export all workspace data, and the exports include file attachments through the Discovery API. It is still important to note that the format of the export is the same as the standard and corporate exports.


Onna continues to be our tool of choice for Slack collection and processing. Onna has continuously improved their platform, and it’s evident that a real focus has been made on the Slack integration, as the flexibility and reliability of the integration has improved significantly this year alone.

First, Onna’s Slack Enterprise integration provides a great option for discovery, without intrusion to the end user. With Onna’s enterprise integration, the ability to collect data by simply choosing relevant workspace custodians—rather than having to do so with the user’s credentials—is an option that vastly speeds up collection. Additionally, if the client is utilizing several Slack workspaces, Onna’s Enterprise integration has the ability to collect from multiple workspaces, with one integration—another real-time, cost-saving mechanism.

Since our last update, Onna has implemented a date filter at the time of collection. Rather than collecting every channel and message accessible through Slack’s Discovery API, Onna can filter data being collected by date, reducing the dataset’s volume at the outset. Any e-discovery professional understands that the culling of data at collection provides significant cost savings downstream.


The platform’s reporting and audit logging functionality is also now much stronger. As the need for e-discovery Slack collections continues to rise, clients are being more strategic in wanting to isolate relevant channels for collection. On several occasions, we’ve been asked to provide a list of an organization’s list of channels. We’ve easily done so in a matter of minutes, simply by starting a sync and letting Onna obtain a list of the workspace channels. This has greatly enhanced the legal team’s strategy for collection by isolating the collection to a few dozen channels, rather than collecting potentially thousands.

Finally, on July 26, 2018, Slack and Atlassian announced they would be entering into a strategic partnership where HipChat and Stride—Atlassian’s communication products—would be discontinued. Users from those products will be migrated to Slack by February 2019. This was an important acquisition for e-discovery professionals, since this means more users will be switching to Slack—guaranteeing the need to collect Slack data will continue to grow well into the future.

For more information on TLS’s forensic consulting and e-discovery services, check out our website. For more information on TLS’s partnership with Onna, view our press release.


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