The Importance of Preserving Electronically Stored Information
July 26, 2015
How to properly solve a dispute in an electronic world
In today’s world, preserving electronically stored information plays a very large role when it comes to resolving a number of different types of disputes for a variety of reasons. Since so many documents today are in the form of electronic files, attorneys will need to have access to all of this information if they are going to provide you with the full and proper advice regarding your case. When in a dispute, it is your responsibility to preserve and to disclose all relevant information. This includes ESI, as well as paper files and documents.
Additionally, you will need to talk with the party in the dispute with you about the electronic disclosure parameters. Most of the time, the attorneys will want to talk about this long before the proceedings, just so they can be clear of the information and evidence well ahead of time.
Types of Electronically Stored Information
The world is overflowing of electronic devices, most of which have the ability to save or record some type of data. All of these different devices are included when it comes to ESI. These include personal computers, backup tapes, mobile and smartphones, laptops, email, notebooks, PDAs, social network sites, flash drives, USBs, DVDs, tablets, video, audio, document files and much more. Anything stored on an electronic device has the potential to be evidence.
Proper Preservation of Electronically Stored Information
As soon as any type of litigation or dispute arises, it becomes the duty of those who are directly (and sometimes indirectly) involved in the case to preserve the electronic evidence. The type of information and devices that need preservation will naturally differ based on the nature of the dispute. In some cases, it may require the employees of a company to hold onto electronic files without altering them or deleting parts of them.
It can often be tricky to do this properly, simply because most people who need to preserve the information have never had to do it before. Employees may not realize the importance of keeping certain files or photos, for example. It is very important to make sure that you or your attorneys stress the importance of this, and that you outline a plan and procedure that the employees have to follow. This ensures that everyone is on the same page, and that everyone is following the rules of preservation.
For example, you will want to ensure no automatic computer operations delete data Instruct people not to overwrite or erase any data or backup media. Tell them not to defragment programs as well.
What Happens if You Delete Data?
Some people might think that they can “get one over on the opposition” by deleting data. The truth is that with the forensic techniques available today, it’s impossible to permanently delete date. The reason to preserve the evidence, and to have the date that you ordered the preservation of the data, is to show the courts and other parties that you aren’t trying to hide anything. Even if something is deleted by mistake, when it is retrieved, it can look as though you were trying to hide something on purpose. The penalties associated with failing to preserve the data, and with deleting on purpose, can be quite severe in Florida.
To make sure that you are doing everything correctly and according to the letter of the law, it is in your best interest to work with an attorney. Contact Chane Socarras, PLLC to ensure that you are using a quality policy that will ensure your employees are preserving the electronically stored information properly.