eDiscovery Daily Blog

Pizza Hut Pie Tops – The Internet of Things Keeps Getting Stranger: eDiscovery Trends

Editor’s Note: Jim Gill’s writing about eDiscovery and Data Management has been twice recognized with JD Supra Reader’s Choice Awards and he holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.  Before working in eDiscovery, Jim taught college writing at a number of institutions and his creative work has been published in numerous national literary journals, as well as being nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Jim’s post below highlights the proliferation of “internet of things” (IoT) devices in our world (with a unique example) and how that can impact eDiscovery activities.  Great timing, as I will be talking about collecting data from IoT devices at the University of Florida E-Discovery Conference, which will be held a week from today – Thursday, March 29.  As always, the conference will be conducted in Gainesville, FL on the University of Florida Levin College of Law campus (as well as being livestreamed), with CLE-accredited sessions all day from 8am to 5:30pm ET.  I (Doug) am on a panel discussion at 9am ET in a session titled Getting Critical Information From The Tough Locations – Cloud, IOT, Social Media, And Smartphones! with Craig Ball, Kelly Twigger, with Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone.  Click here to register for the conference – it’s only $199 for the entire day in person and only $99 for livestream attendance.  Don’t miss it!

A couple of weeks ago, Pizza Hut announced the release of a pair of sneakers dubbed Pie Tops II – yes, real wearable shoes – which will link with your phone via Bluetooth to connect with the Pizza Hut app, allowing you to order a pizza with the single push of a button on the shoe’s tongue. An additional feature connects with TV receivers like Xfinity, Spectrum, and DirecTV, pausing whatever you’re watching when the pizza arrives at the door.

Yes, this is obviously a marketing gimmick, though it could be yet another sign we’re on the fast track to the world portrayed in the film Idiocracy. But when I saw this, I immediately imagined the possible eDiscovery implications. The IoT has continues to play more of a role in the law, particularly in criminal cases, such as the one where a man in Connecticut was arrested for the murder of his wife because of evidence attained from her Fitbit (covered by the eDiscovery Daily blog here). Now more than ever, criminal and civil courts are dealing with digital evidence that not so long ago didn’t even exist.

Many people in eDiscovery still think of ESI as email or documents. And for the most part, they’re right. But anyone working in the legal tech / data management industries should know by now that what isn’t a concern today, will be in a short matter of time. For individuals, short-sightedness regarding technology may not pose a huge concern on a day-to-day basis. For most of us, the biggest data risk we face is dropping our phones in the toilet. But for corporations, government entities, and other large organizations, getting caught off guard when it comes to the ability to preserve and collect data could bring significant costs, both financial and legal.

This is a where a robust information governance program can protect you from potential snags down the road. Not every new technology will apply to your organization but knowing what your current data landscape looks like gives you a head start on being prepared should something new arise. Housecleaning is also an important part of this process. Once you have a handle on everything, you can begin making decisions on what needs to be kept and what can be defensibly deleted. With data storage becoming more readily available, along with in-place preservation platforms, it’s very easy to keep everything and worry about it later. But more data is coming down the pipe in droves, and sooner or later it’s going to get unwieldy.

It’s also important to think about policies and contingencies regarding new technologies as they come into your organization. More and more people are using their own devices, particularly on the mobile front, which means a huge number of applications are creating ESI related to professional activity. If you don’t have a plan in place for dealing with these as far as preservation and collection, things could get stressful in a hurry should litigation arise. The flipside of that scenario is that too strict a lockdown on the types of devices and platforms that can be used could cut into productivity and dampen creativity.

The main thing to focus on is open and forward-thinking communication should happen continually between all stakeholders: legal, IT, business units, and 3rd party vendors. This way, if something unexpected does come up, everyone is on board and knows how to handle it.

It’s pretty unlikely that data from the Pie Tops II will come into play in your next big case (though I can imagine a modern-day Perry Mason-type drama where someone’s alibi hinges on the time and place they ordered a pizza from their shoes). But, their very existence should get you thinking about the data types that your organization is using, or may soon start using, and their role in litigation.

So, what do you think?  Have you seen a rise in new data affecting your organization?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Image Copyright © Pizza Hut, LLC

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