In a world in which an internet connection has rapidly become a necessity for doing business, some or all of a company's communications, record-keeping, and documentation are likely done through Word docs, email, text messages, and other methods of digital storage and information-sharing.
If you or your business end up involved in litigation, all of that electronically-sourced information, or ESI, could end up becoming a part of legal proceedings. If that happens, you will need to be able to produce any and all relevant information, even if it's stored in a file folder on a computer you haven't used in three years.
Otherwise, you could risk having your side of the story lost, or even face punitive measures as a result of being unable to produce the data.
Digital forensics, or computer forensics, and eDiscovery are two methods of procuring the relevant data in the event of litigation.
Are Digital Forensics and eDiscovery the Same Thing?
The quick answer is no. But... it's a bit more complex than that.
You can read about the ins and outs of how eDiscovery works in our blog series on the EDRM, or Electronic Discovery Reference Model, considered the definitive guide to utilizing eDiscovery for litigation support professionals.
We'll give just a short breakdown here of eDiscovery, digital forensics, and how the two work differently and in support of each other.
eDiscovery: From Production to Review & Analysis
eDiscovery focuses on the collection, identification, preservation, analysis, and review of electronically-sourced information, or ESI. As our number of digital connections grows, so does the amount of information shared and saved using digital resources. Anything from a text message to a work email to entire servers' worth of information could be relevant in the event of litigation, and each and every individual communication or bit of data must be processed to ensure no important information is left out.
Generally speaking, eDiscovery is all about the collection, organization, and review of active data, or information generally available through programs or storage utilized by a business or individual.
During eDiscovery, these collections of data go to the litigation support provider working on behalf of the legal counsel (or to the legal counsel themselves, depending on the situation). Once the information is received and segmented by relevance, legal counsel will then perform their own review.
The litigation support services provider involved in providing eDiscovery services will focus on the organization of the data, but they do not provide legal advice.
Digital forensics becomes necessary if further analysis of the data is needed or if the original data has been deleted or tampered with.
Let's take a closer look at digital forensics.
Digital Forensics: Taking a Deeper Look at the Data
Digital forensics, aka computer forensics, can be utilized to sort through the information in search of data that may have been hidden, tampered with, or deleted.
The deletion of important data is not always purposeful or a sign of malicious intent. For instance, automatically-stored data may be removed from a server through a company's information governance processes.
Computer forensics specialists can usually discern which data has been removed automatically or through no fault of the party or parties involved, and which data may have been removed purposefully.
Digital forensics is often facilitated alongside the legal team, working with the client to determine exactly what kinds of data may be relevant and/or responsive. Following collection, computer forensics specialists are often called in to testify and defend their claims about the data collected.
While Digital Forensics and eDiscovery Are Related, They Serve Very Different Purposes in Litigation.
As we become more and more reliant on technology and digital connections to do business, courts have begun restricting how data can be used in trial presentation. There are also increased regulations on how data can be collected. U.S. courts are less likely to approve a request to obtain all data related to a business or individual than they used to be, thus requiring all parties involved to detail, in specifics, what information they are looking for and why.
The courts will require all parties involved to ensure that data collection is not intrusive for either party, and that any information collected relates to the actual case in question.
The mix of increased reliance on technology and a greater number of regulations surrounding digital forensics and the use of eDiscovery makes it even more imperative that you utilize a qualified, experienced litigation support provider to help tell your story within the rules of civil procedure.
At Legal Eagle, we work with eDiscovery providers like CloudNine to provide eDiscovery services in South Carolina. CloudNine is an effective, efficient eDiscovery solution that also securely protects your data and documentation every step of the way.
To request a closer look at Legal Eagle's eDiscovery services, or to ask about our court reporting jobs, request a free demo of our CloudNine eDiscovery software solution, and more, give us a call at (800) 313-5133 or contact us online at any time.