Expiring and Revoking Documents: What You Need to Know

The ability to expire and revoke document access is essential in a world of trade secrets as well as protecting sensitive or classified information.
Expiring and Revoking Documents: What You Need to Know

What is expiring and revoking documents access? And why would you ever need it? Why would you give people access to use your documents only to take it away later on?

You and your document users might not understand it. However, there are several reasons why you may want to do this. These are discussed below.


Regulations and Laws

Data protection laws are something you have to contend with if you store personal information regarding your customers. Holding on to the information for longer can lead to litigation and fines for non-compliance. Electronic documents, however, can be stored for any amount of time as they do not suffer from wear and tear as their paper counterparts.

Also, you may have distributed files to your employees which will make it difficult to track down each document to ensure that it has been deleted on all devices. 

So, the ability to expire documents will come in handy in such scenarios as it is more convenient than deleting each copy of a document manually. Basically, when distributing the document, you can set an expiry date if you use a document DRM system.

You will then never have to deal with deleting files manually again. If a document has expired, access to it will be revoked. It is, therefore, effectively eliminated and no one can accuse you of non-compliance.


To Allow for Updates and Revisions

The truth as we know it is relative and changes to your documents will be required from time to time depending on the latest information available.

So, if a document contains information that is expected to change or is subject to revision, expiring and revoking its use is necessary. This will ensure that your users always have the most current information.


Trial before Purchase

In the past, people evaluated products in a store before buying them. Now, you can return goods after buying them if you are unsatisfied.

But, this is much more difficult to allow with electronic documents as people can try to make copies of the documents before the trial period is over. This essentially means that they would get a copy of the document for free.

So, if you offer people documents on a trial basis, then you have to ensure that they cannot make any copies. This necessitates that you employ full DRM controls beforehand. In this way, once they pay for the document, you can change the expiry date to never.

Also, there are a few different expiry modules to choose from, including:

  • Expiry after several prints.
  • Expiry after a number of views.
  • and expiry on a specific date.


Suspicious Activity

A DRM will allow you to log document use, so you know when, where, and how your files are being used. This, of course, requires you have people who monitor such data to discover unusual use patterns.

In this way, if a specific document is in use in a location that is suspicious or the number of prints is not standard, you can identify it as a security issue. And, if the document is of a sensitive nature, the ability to revoke access may come in handy.


Unauthorized Use

Mistakes may happen and sensitive documents may end up in the wrong hands. Some documents are too sensitive to leave in the hands of unauthorized users.

However, if such a document was not distributed using a document DRM system, there is nothing you can do about the predicament. So, using DRM controls is essential to avoid such situations. If you use document DRM and a mistake is made, you can revoke access instantly from a remote location.

Also, some documents may only be for use by your current employees. So, those who are no longer in your employ should not have access. Such a situation could be especially volatile if you have fired the employee as he or she may have a score to settle.

The former employee may decide to settle it by exposing your sensitive files to the public. By revoking access for all documents, you will take away their power to do that.



The ability to expire and revoke document access is essential in a world of trade secrets as well as protecting sensitive or classified information. It should, therefore, be taken with the seriousness it deserves.

You also have to realize that all DRM controls have to be employed for this to be effective. If you deal with sensitive files, try to get document expiry and revocation as tools you can use for the security of the files.


Related Article: M Commerce 101

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