Electronic Document Discovery. It’s a Discovery for Everybody.

Don’t take privacy for granted, especially on your computer. All that data, from documents to software, is permanently stored on your hard drive in some way or another. Delete the electronic document all you like. Update that electronic document as often as you want. That data, or at least some parts of it, remain in the hard drive, waiting to be uncovered.

Ah, the recovery of electronic documents. Electronic Document Discovery. EDD, or what most call e-discoveryElectronic discovery has gotten quite a few people in trouble when ordered searches of their computer proved illicit or criminal acts.

The term electronic discovery these days is thrown around like a Nerf football. But what does electronic discovery really mean? A definition of electronic discovery from bitpipe.com says e-discovery “refers to any process in which electronic data is sought, located, secured, and searched with the intent of using it as evidence in a civil or criminal legal case.”

This stage of litigation is called “discovery,” and discovery has become a frightening word for many, especially those unprepared for it.

“The nature of digital data makes it extremely well-suited to investigation (and discovery in litigation),” bitmap says. “For one thing, digital data can be electronically searched with ease, whereas paper documents must be scrutinized manually. Furthermore, digital data is difficult or impossible to completely destroy, particularly if it gets into a network … In fact, the only reliable means of destroying data is to physically destroy any hard drive where it is found.”

Electronic document discovery is of great concern because almost 90 percent of new data is created in electronic format, and virtually none of it is safe from electronic data discovery software. Even physical documents are converted into digital formats. E-mails and instant messages are also electronic documents and may be included in discovery, too.

Everybody better hold onto electronic documents. Data discovery and litigation happen. Federal law changed over two years ago to require virtually every organization to retain, manage and be able to turn over to the courts any or all pertinent electronic information.

That means organizations need to look at document-retention policy and the software to support it. In other words, electronic data discovery software that archives, retrieves, reviews, retains, produces and deletes – when necessary – electronic data according to federal law.

See, courts slap hefty fines and strict sanctions on an entity that doesn’t follow federal regulations for document retention. Research shows that over 30% of organizations don’t have a data-retention policy, much less software to support. Time to get in the game. If you think electronic document discovery doesn’t pertain to you, think again.

“If your company doesn't have a document preservation/destruction policy in place, your company is exposed to hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not more) in fines and penalties--and that is NOT covered by most insurance policies,” according to Kroll Ontrack.

The company surveyed almost 140 electronic discovery opinions issued from January to October last year. Half of the opinions addressed court-ordered sanctions, data production, and preservation and spoliation issues.

The result is costly. During that same time, Qualcomm Inc. forked over $8 million for e-discovery violations. TheHomeStore.com paid plaintiff Keith Kelly over $300,000 because the company didn’t comply with e-discovery rules.

Thinking about that software, now?

electronic document discovery