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The Significance of Digital Discovery Sources Expansion

The Significance of Digital Discovery Sources Expansion


In the “good old days” eDiscovery pertained primarily to retrieving email messages. Subsequently, it covered slide presentations, text documents, chat logs and a variety of system/network profiles. Today, discovery scope encompasses social media data, cloud data and Internet of Things devices such as smart home or industrial sensors.

The growth in the breadth and volume of data and devices potentially subject to eDiscovery is set against a backdrop of increased regulatory disputes, more class action suits plus labor and IP suits as noted in a 2016 survey from Norton, Rose and Fulbright. These two trends combined drive home the need for businesses to use state-of-the-art technology and expertise that only an industry-leading eDiscovery services provider can offer.

<Growth in Data Volumes

Another 2016 survey, from Osterman Research, is noteworthy for demonstrating the tremendous amount of data potentially available for eDiscovery. For instance, businesses carry nearly 50 GB of email data per employee. Although retention policies are effective for email, business managers display far less confidence for retrieving information from their expanding stores of text documents, presentations, chat messages and online data, which includes social media and IoT devices.

Impact of the Cloud and IoT

Increasingly, in-house data and programs are moving to the cloud, which means eDiscovery engineers must adapt to slower search execution and the probability that the hardware is physically unavailable. Mitigating that situation, however, are cloud vendors who understand eDiscovery benefits for their clients and are offering new services to facilitate that need.

IoT devices may not be accessible physically either, but that is the least of the problems for eDiscovery engineers. So far, IoT devices are mostly proprietary designs with proprietary communications, which makes the use of standard discovery tools and techniques challenging.

Incorporating Social Media

The use of social media for company branding plus service and sales touch points is growing exponentially. However, despite organizations’ consideration of their social media content as formal communications, nearly half are not adequately prepared to present this data in response to a discovery request or for their own defense.

These businesses are increasing their risks by not properly acquiring, storing, filtering or retaining such data. All of those tweets, messenger logs, blog posts, Instagram photos, etc., etc. are fast becoming the focus of eDiscovery searches in a large variety of civil and criminal cases and require the help of eDiscovery experts to ensure authenticity and an impeachable chain of custody.

How Some Organizations Are Preparing

Forward-looking businesses engaging in risk-management relative to legal and disciplinary activities are improve their eDiscovery potential by revamping traditional retention policies and incident mitigation procedures. They are getting better at identifying the types of information requiring retention, including cloud, IoT and social media sources, plus instigating strict expiration and deletion schedules for non-essential data, which are being implemented with the help of automated review technology.

They are also proactively identifying the existence and retention of non-compliant data and being more thorough in running down the root causes that led to its retention in the first place.

Finally, many organizations are working to improve their Forensic Readiness, which increases the efficiency of eDiscovery evidence collection before incidents occur or requests are made, which in turn optimizes an organization’s response and reduces costs in the bargain.

Meeting the Challenges of Data Discoverability

The continued geometric growth in data volumes plus an expanding, inter-connected ecosystem of data sources from in-house data to cloud-based storage to social media and IoT devices is challenging organizations and eDiscovery experts alike. Meeting these challenges is of utmost importance, however, in an increasingly litigious environment.

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