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Craig Ball’s “Alexa-lent” Example of How the Internet of Things is Affecting Our Lives: eDiscovery Trends

I probably shouldn’t be writing about this as it will give my wife Paige another reason to say that we should get one of these.  Nonetheless, Craig Ball’s latest blog post illustrates how much data can be, and is being, captured these days in our everyday life.  Now, if we could just get to that data when we need it for legal purposes.

In Craig’s blog, Ball in your Court, his latest post (“Alexa. Preserve ESI.”) discusses how many cool things the Amazon Echo (with its “Alexa” voice command service) can do.  Sounding like he has gotten a little too up close and personal with the device, Craig notes that:

“Alexa streams music, and news updates.  Checks the weather and traffic.  Orders pizzas and Ubers.  Keeps up with the grocery and to do lists.  Tells jokes.  Turns on the lights.  Adjusts the temperature.  Answers questions.  Does math. Wakes me up.  Reminds me of appointments.  She also orders stuff from Amazon (big surprise there).”

Sounds pretty good.  Hopefully, my wife has stopped reading by this point.

Have you ever seen the movie Minority Report where Tom Cruise walks into his apartment and issues voice commands to turn on the lights and music?  Those days are here.

Anyway, Craig notes that, using the Alexa app on his phone or computer, he can view a list of every interaction since Alexa first came into his life, and listen to each recording of the instruction, including background sounds (even when his friends add heroin and bunny slippers to his shopping list).  Craig notes that “Never in the course of human history have we had so much precise, probative and objective evidence about human thinking and behavior.”

However, as he also notes, “what they don’t do is make it easy to preserve and collect their digital archives when a legal duty arises.  Too many apps and social networking sites fail to offer a reasonable means by which to lock down or retrieve the extensive, detailed records they hold.”  Most of them only provide an item-by-item (or screenshot by screenshot) mechanism for sifting through the data.

To paraphrase a Seinfeld analogy, they know how to take the reservation, they just don’t know how to hold the reservation (OK, it’s not completely relevant, but it’s funny).

In a call to action, Craig says that both “the user communities and the legal community need to speak out on this.  Users need an effective, self-directed means to preserve and collect their own data when legal and regulatory duties require it.”  I agree.  Some, like Google and Twitter, provide excellent mechanisms for getting to the data, but most don’t.

As Wooderson says in the movie Dazed and Confused, “it’d be a lot cooler if you did”.

So, what do you think?  Will the “Internet of Things” age eventually include a self-export feature?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.