Does your organization utilize Office 365 for email? Is your organization required to journal email for compliance, legal, or business requirements? Do your Attorneys complain about the time it takes to find information for an eDiscovery request? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then keep reading. Continue reading
Author: Bill Tolson
Data Sovereignty and the GDPR; Do You Know Where Your Data Is?
As more companies move their data to the cloud, the question of data sovereignty is becoming a hotter topic. Data sovereignty is the requirement that digital data is subject to the laws of the country in which it is collected or processed. Many countries have requirements that data collected in a particular country must stay in that country. They argue that it’s in the Government’s interest to protect their citizen’s personal information against any misuse. Continue reading
The Right to be Forgotten Versus The Need to Backup
A great deal has been written about the GDPR and CCPA privacy laws, both of which includes a “right to be forgotten.” The right to be forgotten is an idea that was put into practice in the European Union (EU) in May 2018 with the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR). Continue reading
The New California Privacy Law and Presumed Damages
At the end of June, California’s legislature passed a new privacy law that in effect implements the strongest privacy controls of any state in the U.S. The new law provides a series of new rights to California’s consumers over how their personal data is collected, used, and sold. The new law will come into effect on January 1, 2020, however, on January 1, 2020, California citizens will be able to request all data about them going back 12 months, or January 1, 2019. This means companies will need to ensure they are properly collecting and classifying California resident data starting January 1, 2019. Continue reading
My Healthcare Data is Where?
According to IDC, healthcare data is one of the fastest growing segments of the digital universe – growing from 153 exabytes in 2013 to an estimated 2,314 exabytes in 2020, a 48% annual growth rate. So where will the healthcare industry put all of this critical and sensitive data and how long must it be held?
The Need for Social Media Archiving
In my frequent discussions with customers about the benefits of cloud archiving for regulatory, legal, and business reasons, I still find a large percentage that still don’t worry about archiving corporate social media content. Continue reading
The Bottle is Only Half Full: Email Migration for eDiscovery
Many legal professionals aren’t aware that there is more to defensibly migrating an email archive in response to eDiscovery than simply copying the journaled email store. In a previous blog titled “What I Don’t Know Can Hurt Me; Beware of Indexers Disguised as Archive Migration Tools”, I talked about the eDiscovery issues you can run into when you migrate the email store without reconciling it with the email archive SQL database, i.e. you lose all associated email metadata showing folder structure, read/unread, follow-up reminders, sender and all recipients (including CC and BCC).
There is another issue that responders to an eDiscovery request must be aware of; there can be two potential sources of archived email content in an email archive; the journaled mailbox archive and the individual custodian archived mailboxes. Migrating only the archived journal mailbox versus the individual mailbox archives can put you at legal risk.
Journal mailbox archiving captures each individual message as it flows through the email server and stores it in a “journal mailbox,” which is a big bucket of all emails sent and received from all mailboxes (figure 1). The main benefit of journaling email is that it captures and protects every email sent and received. In the past, journaling was used to ensure compliance with the SEC requirement that all emails, for brokers and traders, be captured and secured for later review. Journaling also ensures that the original email message is captured in an unaltered (original) state. The down side of journaling is that it creates a “flat” archive with none of the metadata generated from within an individual’s mailbox once it has been received (or sent). This means that mailbox folder structure, forwarding, movements from mailbox folder to folder, and the fact that the email was opened, etc., are not captured when journaling email.
Direct mailbox archiving works differently from journaling in that the archive server will access each individual mailbox and archive anything new in that mailbox including new messages, drafts, email movements from folder to folder, etc. The benefit of direct mailbox archiving is that it captures additional content and metadata that could be important during litigation (figure 2). The downside is that this form of mailbox archiving can take much longer to complete.
To get the best of both worlds, many organizations will enable both types of email archive collection to ensure the capture of all messages in an unaltered state via journaling while also performing a direct mailbox archive once a day to capture the additional content and metadata.
The issue arises when the company or company’s vendor, in response to an eDiscovery request, chooses to migrate only the journaled email archive while certifying to the opposing counsel and court that ALL responsive data was migrated and reviewed (figure 3 – left side). Keep in mind, in legal discovery it is the duty of the responding party to search for, and turn over, all relevant data to opposing counsel. This includes all existing metadata that could be relevant to the case.
This incomplete production of data could trigger charges of incomplete discovery response or spoliation (destruction of evidence) if the archived metadata is lost or corrupted after the original data production.
Organizations migrating email from an archive, in response to an eDiscovery order, should ensure their migration vendor can defensibly migrate and reconcile both the journal and direct mailbox archives (figure 3 – right side).
Archive360 has experience in migrating email archives in response to eDiscovery requests. We defensibly migrate email so charges of incomplete eDiscovery or spoliation do not occur.
The Need for Archiving and FRCP 37(e)
The December 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), specifically Rule 37, established when litigation can be reasonably anticipated, the duty of both sides is to immediately stop all alterations and deletions of all potentially relevant content and secure it – also known as a litigation hold and the duty to preserve.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court approved new amendments to the FRCP which will become effective on December 1, 2015. The new Rule 37(e) reiterates the need to preserve electronically stored information (once litigation can be reasonably anticipated) but also creates a uniform standard for spoliation (destruction of evidence) and so, they hope, will provide greater predictability around the question of loss of ESI during litigation.
The new amended Rule 37(e) allows a court to respond when one party loses electronically stored information (ESI), which then prejudices the other party. Rule 37(e) empowers a court to take reasonable action to cure the prejudice, even if the loss of ESI was inadvertent. The new twist is now the burden to prove prejudice resulting from the missing/lost evidence as a result of willful or intentional misconduct falls on the innocent party before the most severe sanctions can be imposed, and then only if the prejudice shown cannot be mitigated through other remedies, e.g. additional discovery. To complicate matters further, even in cases when there is no demonstrated prejudice to the opposing party, the court can assume the ESI was unfavorable and enter a default judgment in the case. This means that the Judge has wide latitude to respond to parties who don’t take their eDiscovery responsibilities seriously.
The need for information governance and archiving
Many believe the amended Rule 37(e) highlights the need for corporations to get more control of all of their electronic data, not just that data considered a record. Information governance programs including on-going content archiving of those types of information most sought after in eDiscovery, namely email and other forms of communication, enables an organization to quickly find all potentially relevant content, secure it under a litigation hold, and begin the review process immediately – knowing the archive is the “copy of record” repository.
Many Judges look closely at the steps taken by the responding party when eDiscovery mistakes happen. Judges want to see that reasonable actions were taken and a good faith intent was present to reduce or stop eDiscovery mishaps including, regularly updated policies, on-going employee training, and the type of technology purchased. Judges understand that there is no such thing as Perfect; that mistakes happen, and many times it inadvertent.
Keeping everything forever is a mistake
Another related eDiscovery problem many companies find themselves facing is the issue of having too much data to search and review during eDiscovery. Many companies only manage what they consider to be “business records”, which averages 5% of all corporate data, and leave the other 95% to be managed (or not) by individual employees. This huge unmanaged store of employee data, which is a popular target in discovery, dramatically drives up the cost of eDiscovery, while also driving up the potential of problems occurring during eDiscovery. Defensibly disposing of expired or valueless data will reduce the amount of data that must be pulled into an eDiscovery action reducing the cost and risk of problems later.
A centrally managed archive that proactively captures, for example, all communications (email, IM, social communications) and applies retention/disposition policies to all captured content can insure that expired or valueless data is defensibly disposed of, reducing the size of the overall discovery data set by as much 60%. Because it’s defensibly disposed of via automation and policy, questions of spoliation cannot be raised.
In fact, archiving your most important (and requested) content provides a great deal more granular data management capability then simply relying on individual employees – so you don’t run afoul of the new FRCP Rule 37(e).
The Weak Link in the Information Security Chain…Law Firms
Many law firms are unwittingly setting themselves up to be a prime target for cyber criminals. But it is not the firm’s data that hackers might be looking for – it is the huge volume of client data that law firms handle on a daily basis that make them so appealing for cyber criminals to target.
eDiscovery continues to generate huge, and ever-growing data sets of ESI for law firms to manage. Those data sets are often passed to the client’s law firm for processing, review and production. The end result is law firms are sitting on huge amounts of sensitive client data and if the firm is not diligent about managing it, securing it, and disposing of it at the conclusion of the case. And absent serious reforms in the Rules of Civil Procedure, these data volumes will only continue to grow.
A 2014 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report found that 14% of law firms experienced a security breach in 2013 which included a lost or stolen computer or smartphone, a cyber-attack, a physical break in of website exploit event. That same survey reported that 45% of respondents had experienced a virus-based technology infection and boutique firms of 2 to 9 attorneys were the most likely to have experienced an infection. Law firms of 10 to 49 attorneys were the most likely to suffer security breaches.
A growing number of clients are demanding their law firms take data security more seriously and are laying down the law – “give us what we want or we will find another law firm that will…” Generally speaking, law firms have never been accused of being technology “early adopters” and while they still don’t need to be, they do need to take client (and firm) data security and management seriously and adopt technology and processes that will both satisfy their client’s rising expectations as well as their cyber insurance providers best practices.
At the end of the day, law firms should ask themselves a basic question: is my law firm prepared and equipped to protect our client’s data and if not, what’s the best strategy for my law firm going forward?
For more detail on this topic, download the Paragon white paper on this subject:
Email Use Policies: The beginning of the end?
A December 2014 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision in reference to the Purple Communications, Inc. case might have started the decline of employer’s rights over how their property and systems can be used by employees.
In the 2007 Guard Publishing decision, the NLRB held that the National Labor Relations Act does not give employees the right to use an employer’s email system for union-related business, i.e., activity not related to the running of the business. Partly because of this decision, employers have regularly created and enforced email use policies that forbid the use of the employer’s email system for anything other than actual company business. This decision was supposedly based on the NLRB’s comparison of an employer’s bulletin board, telephone system, copy machines and PA systems to the employer’s email system. In other words, employees did not have carte blanche to utilize these other systems for non-business-related activities either.
The NLRB Purple Communications decision reversed the 2007 ruling and held that employees do now have the presumptive right to use their employer’s email system for non-work NLRB-protected purposes. But does this decision also reverse the practice of employers restricting the use of the other systems (copy machines, bulletin boards, etc.) to strictly business-related purposes?
There are several points to keep in mind before taking over your employer’s copy machine to print 1,000 garage sale flyers.
- The 2014 NLRB-Purple Communications decision was limited to email systems only.
- The 2014 NLRB-Purple Communications decision was limited to actual employees of the company—not family members or anyone else.
- The 2014 NLRB-Purple Communications decision relates to activities protected by the National Labor Relations Act, i.e., union-related activities only.
- The NLRB invalidated the prior validity of prohibitions of the non-work use of company physical property such as the previously mentioned copy machines, bulletin boards, and telephone systems.
Another interesting fact from the 2014 case is that the NLRB (re)confirmed an employer’s right to monitor its email system for “legitimate management purposes” and that employees continue to have no expectation of privacy in their use of the employer’s email system. But the NLRB stated that the employer may not increase employee email monitoring during union-organizing campaigns or focus monitoring activities on “protected” conduct or union activists specifically.
Obviously, the NLRB decision was directed specifically to companies with union membership and activities. But this raises the question of the use of employer equipment and systems for non-union-related activities. Will this decision be used to erode employer restrictions on the use of company property in the future?