Social Technology

JSON is not a document, it is data… and lots of it!

By:  Trent Livingston

Modern eDiscovery deals with much more than just documents. In 2020, people created 1.7 MB of data every second, and most of that data was likely stored in a database. Now, newer applications like Facebook, Twitter, Slack are storing copious amounts of data ranging from tweets, wall posts, and chats.

Many of these artifacts are stored with complementary data that can include file links, reactions (such as “likes”), and even geolocation information. Accessing this modern data in order to leverage it for a discovery request often requires some sort of archive process from the originating application, and that is when JSON enters the picture.

JSON stands for “JavaScript Object Notation”, but that doesn’t mean you need to know how to write JavaScript (or any code for that matter)!  If you’ve ever dealt with discovery surrounding any of the aforementioned applications, you’ve likely come across a few JSON files. In a nutshell, think of JSON as a relational spreadsheet where one column of data in one tab of your spreadsheet is defined by another column of data in another tab in another spreadsheet.

For example, you might have a column called “Address” in a spreadsheet and that column contains a series of numeric “id” values that reference another tab in that same spreadsheet. In this secondary tab, each address is broken down into values for that address that may include things like “country”, “zip”, or “street”.  All those values that have the same “id” belong to the “address” reference in the previous tab. Simply put, this is structured data. JSON data is no different. However, JSON can contain a multitude of data structures varying from simple to complex.

The problem with JSON is while there are multiple JSON viewers and formatters online, they do not understand the defined data structures within.  Each platform defines these data structures differently, and while the vehicle may be the same, the defined structure is usually different from application to application (as well as the application’s version).  Therefore, the data within the JSON often comes out in an unexpected format when using a generic formatting tool, and the relationships between the data are often lost or jumbled. (By the way, you should never use any online “free” tool to format potentially confidential or privileged information).

Therefore, it is important to work with someone who understands JSON as an eDiscovery data source.  A single JSON file just a few megabytes in size may represent hundreds, if not thousands of messages, contain numerous links to files, as well as key data relevant to your investigation or litigation. Contained within a JSON file could be any number of nested data formats, including:

  • Strings: a sequence of zero or more Unicode characters, which could include emojis in a Unicode format, usernames, or an actual text message.
  • Numbers: a numeric value that can represent a date, intrinsic value, id, or potentially a true/false value represented as “1” or “0”.
  • Objects: a series or collection of one or more data points represented as named value pairs that create meaning as a whole, such as longitude, latitude, elevation, rate of speed, and direction that make up the components of a device’s location.
  • Arrays: a collection of values or elements of the same type that can be individually referenced by using an index to a unique identifier, such as the choices of a color of a car on a website or a set of canned response values listed in a software chat application.

The thing to remember is the JSON file is actually one big “object”, which is the parent to all of the named value pairs beneath it.  Within this object, you can have more objects that contain numbers, strings, arrays, and yet even more objects. Confused yet?

Not to worry! It is understandable that all this JSON data can quickly become a source of frustration!  The question that remains is, “How do I make sense of all of this structured data and present it for review in a reasonably usable format?” 

Here are some tips:

  1. Make sure you do not overlook JSON as part of your electronic discovery protocol
  2. Leverage an experienced team to help you understand the JSON output
    • Document the source application whenever possible (some JSON include access keys that can expire or be terminated at any time, such as Slack)
    • Preserve the JSON file as you would any other evidentiary data source
    • Document the chain of custody for the JSON file (originating application and version of that application, who conducted the export, as well as any access keys that may be transitory or temporary and their date of expiration)
    • Treat each JSON file and associated content as a potential source of PII, confidential, and/or privileged information given the breadth of data that each may contain
  3. Work with a team and a product that can parse, ingest, and subsequently present JSON data in a usable format for review and production

While there is not an off-the-shelf solution for every JSON file in existence, CloudNine ESI Analyst is a platform designed for the multitude of data types that can be extracted from just about any JSON file out there. Many of which can be easily mapped to a data type construct within our SaaS application that allows for presentation, review, and production in a reasonably usable format.

Contact us today for a demonstration and further detail!

Three Use Cases to Navigate Modern Data in eDiscovery

In litigation, knowing the full picture is the only way to effectively represent your clients. The only problem is most of the story is often stored on electronic devices like smartphones, laptops, or tablets.

While eDiscovery can be dated back to 1981 and the first substantial use of email in litigation (Governors of United State Postal Service v. United States Postal Rate Commission), integrating newer, modern data types like text messages, computer activity, and financial data, has been a bit more challenging. These challenges relate back to how eDiscovery has historically worked and why modern data sources don’t fit nicely into that process. 

When eDiscovery was introduced with email and electronic documents as the primary source of information, simple messages and documents were sufficient to tell the story in a linear document review workflow. But, with sophisticated technology like Slack, chat applications and smartphone messaging where communications occur in real time, the conversion to documents for review hinders a proper evidence analysis.

Making sense of all that data only works when it is presented in the way it was originally communicated. The old documentation process simply doesn’t provide the insight you need to leverage modern data in litigation.

Case Study 1: Tackling Disparate Modern Data from Multiple Sources

No matter how small or large your case is, reviewing modern data can be challenging. Between smartphones, laptops, social media apps, and other connected devices, there’s a plethora of data to sift through to find the evidence you need to support your case. This process becomes even more complicated when the data is presented through the lens of traditional eDiscovery meaning, in traditional document format. What once worked for simple electronic communications no longer tells the whole story within complex, real-time and editable messaging technologies like WhatsApp, Slack and social media.

So what happens when you have to produce data from hundreds of international sources, and need it to tell the story of what actually happened? Let’s look at a case study of a construction company who had to do exactly that.

The Problem:

One of the largest construction companies in the world required the collection of modern data from 300 international sources. While the sheer number of sources was a challenge in itself, the real difficulty was working with disparate data from so many different sources.

Each business unit within the company used different technology so data had to be collected from a vast number of sources – local desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and backup servers.

Plus, because so many BYOD devices were used, legal, data privacy, IT, and risk & compliance departments had to be consulted throughout the collection and review process to ensure no U.S. or international privacy laws were broken.

The Solution:

Ultimately, our client needed to understand who said or did what, and when. Basic documents with communications from readily available sources wouldn’t be enough, because they couldn’t easily identify the critical timeline of events or the intentions of each party. In the end, CloudNine ESI’s actor normalization function was the key to finding the evidence needed.

The Results:

By matching specific individuals to different aliases and phone numbers, attorneys were able to identify a handful of photos shared from the vast amount of data collected that proved the construction company was at fault. These photos were presented to the court in the form of inline bubble messaging that was easy to read and view.  To learn more about this use case, click here.

Case Study 2: Overcoming the Personal Device eDiscovery Challenge

There’s an expected, inherent trust between a company and its employees which means employees typically won’t do work that’s a conflict of interest with their current employer. Unfortunately, that trust is sometimes broken by actors that take advantage of their position.

The Problem:

When a heavy equipment manager became the target of a moonlighting case that cost his company money, attorneys were discouraged when they couldn’t find any evidence of wrongdoing. There were no documents, emails, or invoices to be found through traditional eDiscovery.

The Solution:

Fortunately, the key to the case was the manager’s smartphone.

By gaining access to his phone, attorneys were able to secure tens of thousands of text messages directly related to the case. This helped them discover how he operated his illegal side hustle. They also learned he was sharing confidential, copyrighted, and proprietary information through photos sent via text message.

The Results:

Through CloudNine ESI Analyst, attorneys were able to create conversation threads which were easy to review and produce. These threads not only helped them identify other involved parties, but let them produce messages, including embedded images, videos, GIFs, and emojis.

Without the ability to review and analyze the bad actor’s smartphone data, the case likely would not have gone forward.  

To learn more about this use case, click here.

Case Study 3: Protecting Company Data with Modern eDiscovery

The average American holds 12 jobs in their lifetime so it’s safe to say you will lose employees from time to time. Whether purposeful or accidental, the odds are good their personal devices will contain confidential or proprietary information when they walk through the door for the final time.

So what if you could examine their devices and remove all sensitive material before they left?

The Problem:

An employee spent six months working from home on a personal laptop before announcing his resignation to work for a competitor. If the employee was allowed to leave without a device review, he’d likely be leaving with documents that would benefit both him and his new employer.

Whether he would ever used those documents or not, chances are he’d find himself in the middle of a long, expensive trade secrets case which would also impact his new employer.

The Solution:

The representatives of the employee’s current company needed a way to access his personal laptop and identify any confidential or proprietary documents to be destroyed before he went to work for their competitor. They sought out a solution to easily identify these risks to protect their company, the employee and the employee’s future company.

The Results:

With CloudNine ESI Analyst, company representatives were able to access his personal laptop, create a chain of custody and review the data found on it. This allowed them to find confidential and proprietary data and remove it before the employee left for his new position, protecting all parties involved.

By doing this in advance, you preserve the data and protect it without relying on your employees to remember if they have sensitive information on their devices or not.

To learn more about this use case, click here

CloudNine ESI Analyst – A Modern eDiscovery Solution for Modern Data Review

While most law firms, corporations, and LSPs are challenged to review modern data through traditional eDiscovery tools, they struggle to pull the true value out of the data. Each text and corporate chat message are recreated as stand-alone documents, leaving you to piece them all together like a giant legal jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces and others that simply don’t fit the storyline.

With a robust and flexible modern eDiscovery tool like CloudNine ESI Analyst, you have access to alternative data to help you put the puzzle together through linear storytelling that creates a digital trail of evidence, including some of these popular sources:

  • Text messages (SMS and MMS)
  • Call logs
  • Voicemails
  • Messenger applications (Slack, Teams, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc.)
  • Computer activity
  • Financial transactions
  • Geolocation

Modernize your investigations and litigation by effectively managing the data in a single platform instead of wasting time managing a menagerie of documents in siloed systems.

Every case is unique and requires you to find the facts and context to tell the complete story. Contact CloudNine and learn how we can help you leverage all the data to get to the truth of the matter. Contact us to learn more.

Modern Data Discussions by Leading Experts at The Master’s Conference in DC

Last week, CloudNine Senior Director Rick Clark, VP Rob Lekowski and industry thought leaders convened in Washington, DC for The Master’s Conference first in-person event since early 2020. The two-day event tackled the latest challenges in eDiscovery, cybersecurity, and information governance. Managing modern data was the most popular recurrent topic with four distinct panels on the subject.

Smartphones, collaboration apps, and social media platforms all store a plethora of relevant information and is where today’s most important evidence resides. By avoiding or mismanaging this evidence, lawyers miss out on critical insights. So, how should legal teams incorporate modern data into investigations? Rick Clark addressed this question and more during the panel titled “Telling The Full Story: Leveraging the Data Between the Documents” with panelists Dave Rogers, Kroll; Kevin Albert, PAE; and Sonya Judkins, T-Mobile.

Here are three key takeaways from the panel discussion:

Modern data types can no longer be ignored – Emails and traditional documents are always going to be a part of discovery and investigations, but key data has moved away from these platforms. Conversations in Slack, MS Teams, device chat applications and text messages are additional communications needed to follow the conversation. Nowadays, modern data expands above communications into geolocation, social media posts, user activities and offer the largest insights. Recent case decisions have proven that judges are open to admitting modern data so long as the evidence is relevant and properly authenticated.

 Data shouldn’t be treated like documents – One reason why legal teams avoid modern data is linear document review. Imaging and exporting modern data leads to issues like missing metadata, families, threads, and file types. This method also requires legal teams to review evidence without any threading, deduplication, or link-analysis tools. Instead, large volumes of data are analyzed document by document. Linear document review is tedious, inefficient, and time-consuming but most important is legal teams who use linear document review also run the risk of overlooking important details. By opting for link analysis, litigants can connect various data points together to find relevant information faster.

“There just isn’t a good solution out there” – NOT TRUE – Four panels at the Master’s Conference discussed the challenges of modern data, but only Rick Clark’s panel offered a solution. CloudNine ESI Analyst is the only software that renders modern data in a near-native state. The platform uniquely offers users the ability to ingest and investigate multiple data sources within a single platform. Attendees of the CloudNine breakout session were given a full demonstration of ESI Analyst’s capabilities. Through timelines and 24-hour threads, ESI Analyst enables native analysis of communications, transactions, and computer activities.

Missed the Washington, DC event? Join us May 18th, 2022 for the next Master’s Conference in Chicago, Illinois.

Click here to learn more about how CloudNine ESI Analyst can help you manage your modern data.

Don’t Get Spooked by Communication Applications!

Since Halloween is approaching, it’s time to reflect on a scary part of the discovery process: handling communication applications. As a newer form of digital evidence, communication apps can be a legal team’s worst nightmare. Ephemeral messaging apps like Wickr and Signal make conversations disappear like ghosts in the night. Slack and Microsoft Teams have sunk their teeth into the communications of most corporations. Social media apps have entranced us with a spell, prompting our fingers to type a new DM or tweet every other hour. It’s easy to view these applications as monsters in the discovery process. They have revolutionized the world of e-discovery, expanding it to more than just emails and electronic files.  Whether you love them or hate them, communication apps aren’t going anywhere. In fact, their popularity is only rising. Approximately 2.5 billion people use at least one messaging app on their mobile devices. This number is expected to reach 3 billion by the end of next year. [1] Here’s another chilling statistic: in 2020, 41 million application messages were sent every minute. The volume of communication app data is frighteningly large, but its relevance is undeniable. Regardless of case type, (criminal, personal injury, defamation, etc.) litigants should consider its production. Within each channel and group chat lies a plethora of information that could make or break a case. Still afraid? Here’s a list of challenges and solutions for managing communication applications.

Understanding the missing context:

Messages sent on communication applications are often short and sent with little context. Bits and pieces of conversations might be spread out across multiple platforms and group chats. When handling a case, legal teams should identify all relevant communication platforms to connect the missing dots. Litigants should also consider deriving context from atypical sources such as emojis, liked messages, images, and GIFS. [2] These humorous icons and features can reflect the sender’s tone, a difficult thing to gather over text. Remember, images and emojis aren’t supported in all native file types, so it’s important to find an eDiscovery provider that will reconstruct the conversations. [3]

Managing large volumes of data:

Producing and reviewing voluminous data is stressful, time-consuming, and expensive. By creating comprehensive retention policies, businesses can proactively determine which data types and channels should be preserved. Within the policies, companies should outline the procedures for labeling, storing, and deleting records. [4] The deletion of unneeded data lowers the risk of massive data accumulation.

Remembering each application’s retention policies:

Applications like Slack and Microsoft Teams will retain all messages unless configured otherwise. Similarly, Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger store data until the account has been deleted. [5] If the account owner deletes or unsends a message, the data will still show on the recipient’s phone. Some of these platforms contain “Recently Deleted” features that make recovery much easier. The policies for collaboration and social media applications are rather straightforward. Ephemeral messaging apps are a bit different; however, the auto-deletion features can be adjusted to the user’s discretion. Auto-deletion settings should be turned off during or in anticipation of litigation.

 

[1] Damjan Jugovic Spajic, “Text, Don’t Call: Messaging Apps Statistics for 2020,” Komando Tech, December 11, 2019.

[2] Erin Tomine, “Chat Messages and eDiscovery: How to Ease the Burden and Get the Full Picture,” Conduent, July 7, 2021.

[3] Matthew Verga, “Discovery from Slack: It’s Complicated,” Xact Data Discovery, June 19, 2020.

[4] Law Offices of Salar Atrizadeh, “Electronic Discovery and Data Retention Policies,” Internet Lawyer Blog, May 18, 2020.

[5] “Data Policy,” Instagram Help Center, 2021.

Away CEO Resigns After “Slack Bullying” Revealed in Report from The Verge: eDiscovery Trends

“Yes”, you say, “this is an interesting story, but what does it have to do with eDiscovery?”  And, why is there a picture of Yogi Berra on this story?  Read on and you’ll find out.

After an article (Emotional Baggage, written by Zoe Schiffer) by The Verge last week exposed a story where ex-employees claimed Away, a luggage startup hid a “toxic work culture”, the travel brand announced it hired the Lululemon executive Stuart Haselden as the company’s new CEO to replace current CEO Steph Korey, who is stepping down just four days after the article.

Like many fast-growing startups, Away’s workplace is organized around digital communication. It’s how employees talk, plan projects, and get feedback from co-workers and higher-ups. Away used the popular chat app Slack, which has the motto ‘where work happens.”  Away embraced Slack in more ways than one — its co-founder, Jen Rubio, is engaged to its CEO Stewart Butterfield — but it took things further than most startups. Employees were not allowed to email each other, and direct messages were supposed to be used rarely (never about work, and only for small requests, like asking if someone wanted to eat lunch). Private channels were also to be created sparingly and mainly for work-specific reasons, so making channels to, say, commiserate about a tough workday was not encouraged.

The rules had been implemented in the name of transparency, but employees say they created a culture of intimidation and constant surveillance. Once, when a suitcase was sent out with a customer’s incomplete initials stenciled onto the luggage tag, Korey said the person in charge must have been “brain dead” and threatened to take over the project.  Korey often framed her critiques in terms of Away’s core company values: thoughtful, customer-obsessed, iterative, empowered, accessible, in it together. Empowered employees didn’t schedule time off when things were busy, regardless of how much they’d been working. Customer-obsessed employees did whatever it took to make consumers happy, even if it came at the cost of their own well-being.

An example of that was the Slack message that Korey sent the day before Valentine’s Day in 2018, when she decided she was going to stop the team from taking any more time off. In a series of Slack messages that began at 3AM, she said, “I know this group is hungry for career development opportunities, and in an effort to support you in developing your skills, I am going to help you learn the career skill of accountability. To hold you accountable…no more [paid time off] or [work from home] requests will be considered from the 6 of you…I hope everyone in this group appreciates the thoughtfulness I’ve put into creating this career development opportunity and that you’re all excited to operate consistently with our core values.”  Four days later, when she noticed two managers still had time off on the calendar, she was livid. “If you all choose to utilize your empowerment to leave our customers hanging…you will have convinced me that this group does not embody Away’s core values,” she said.  In both cases, the emphasis was Korey’s.

Throughout, the article talks about how overworked the small customer team was in keeping up with customer emails and how responses from Away management (especially Korey) continued to drive and berate them.

Away indicated that the plan to change its CEO had been in the works for months.  For her part, Korey posted a message on Twitter last Friday (before the CEO announcement) admitting to her “mistakes” and promising that the company “will continue to work to improve.” As for those mistakes, she notes: “At times, I expressed myself in ways that hurt the team. … I was appalled and embarrassed reading [the messages]. … I’m sincerely sorry for what I said and how I said it. It was wrong, plain and simple.”

The follow-up article from The Verge that discussed Korey’s resignation also discussed the use of Slack as part of the story, noting that “executives may begin rethinking the use of Slack. The kind of type-first, think-later style of communication that it inspires is categorically different than email, the technology that preceded it in companies like Away.”

So, what does this article have to do with eDiscovery?  It illustrates how communications in organizations are changing these days.  While the communication policies at Away are an extreme example, they certainly illustrate how communication is about much more than email these days – communications with colleagues via text and other messaging apps like Skype and Slack are routine in organizations these days as those messages are often the quickest way to get a response versus wading through a sea of emails.  When it comes to emails and urgent communications, as Yogi Berra once said about a popular restaurant in New York, “nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”  And, all of that data is discoverable.

So, what do you think?  Does your organization use Slack or another messaging app for internal communications?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.  It’s never over ’til it’s over.  ;o)

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

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.

Today’s Webcast Will Show You How to Think Like a Millennial When Addressing eDiscovery Needs: eDiscovery Webcasts

As we learned in Tom O’Connor’s recent five part blog series, millennials may be changing eDiscovery (depending on your point of view).  Regardless, eDiscovery is changing and millennials may be a BIG part of that change.  TODAY’S webcast will help you think like a millennial to address your eDiscovery needs.

Today at noon CST (1:00pm EST, 10:00am PST), CloudNine will conduct the webcast Thinking Like a Millennial in eDiscovery.  This CLE-approved* webcast session will discuss how evolving technology trends are impacting eDiscovery today and how to think like a millennial to stay on top of those developing trends. Key topics include:

  • Understanding Millennials and How They Differ from Previous Generations
  • Drivers for Millennials’ Thinking Today
  • How Litigation Support and eDiscovery Has Evolved Over the Years
  • Challenges Posed by BIG Data and Variety of Data Sources
  • Ethical Duties and Rules for Understanding Technology
  • Impact of Millennials on Legal Technology and eDiscovery
  • Your Clients May Have More ESI Than You Think
  • Recommendations for Addressing Today and Future Technology Challenges

As always, I’ll be presenting the webcast, along with Tom O’Connor.  To register for it, click here – it’s not too late! Even if you can’t make it, go ahead and register to get a link to the slides and to the recording of the webcast (if you want to check it out later).  If you want to learn how the habits of millennials will impact your eDiscovery processes, this is the webcast for you!

So, what do you think?  Are you concerned about how the habits of millennials will impact your eDiscovery processes?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

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.

Forget CCPA. COPPA Just Cost YouTube and Google $170 Million: Cybersecurity Trends

Sure, we’ve been talking a lot the past couple of years about Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), enacted in May 2018 and we’ve already seen one big fine here and another huge potential fine here.  And, we’ve been talking for over a year now about the California Consumer Privacy Act, which is scheduled to take effect next January 1st.  But, have we talked about “COPPA”?  Not, till now.  But, “COPPA” just cost YouTube and Google $170 million.

According to CBS News (Google to pay $170 million for violating kids’ privacy on YouTube, written by Sarah Min), Google will pay a record $170 million fine to settle a lawsuit filed by federal and state authorities that charged the internet giant with violating children’s privacy on YouTube, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said Wednesday.

The settlement requires Google and YouTube to pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York state for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), by collecting personal information from children without their parents’ consent.

The FTC and the New York attorney general alleged in a complaint that YouTube gathered children’s personal information by using “cookies,” or personal identifiers, that track users online. According to the suit, YouTube earned millions of dollars by using the information to deliver targeted ads to kids.

COPPA requires online websites to obtain parental consent prior to collecting kids’ online usage information. The FTC and New York Attorney General Letitia James said that, while YouTube claimed it caters to a general audience, many of its online channels are aimed at children under the age 13. That requires the service to comply with COPPA guidelines.

“YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a statement. “Yet when it came to complying with COPPA, the company refused to acknowledge that portions of its platform were clearly directed to kids.”

For example, a toymaker with a YouTube channel could track people who viewed its videos to send ads for its own products that are targeted to children. The FTC said in its complaint that Google and YouTube told toymaker Mattel that YouTube “is today’s leader in reaching children age 6-11 against top TV channels.” It also said that the companies told Hasbro that YouTube is the “#1 website regularly visited by kids.”

But when it came to advertisers, the FTC alleged that YouTube told at least one marketer that the video-search company need not comply with COPPA, as it did not have users under the age of 13 on the platform.

Prior to Google’s settlement, the largest civil FTC penalty for a children’s data-privacy case was a $5.7 million for a case in February involving social media app TikTok. This penalty is nearly 30 times that one.  Still, critics say last week’s settlement still amounts to a drop in the bucket for Google, whose parent company Alphabet was sitting on $121 billion in cash and securities at the end of June.

Nonetheless, this penalty, along with Google’s GDPR fine from earlier this year, adds up to nearly $227 million.  That’s some serious money, even for a company like Google.  Great Google-y Moogle-y!

So, what do you think?  Will fines like these change how organizations track user data?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

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.

Here’s a Webcast to Learn How to Think Like a Millennial When Addressing eDiscovery Needs: eDiscovery Webcasts

As we learned in Tom O’Connor’s recent five part blog series, millennials, with their focus on mobile devices and social media sites, may be changing eDiscovery (depending on your point of view).  Regardless, eDiscovery is changing and millennials may be a BIG part of that change.  Here’s a webcast that will help you think like a millennial to address your eDiscovery needs.

On Wednesday, September 18th at noon CST (1:00pm EST, 10:00am PST), CloudNine will conduct the webcast Thinking Like a Millennial in eDiscovery.  This CLE-approved* webcast session will discuss how evolving technology trends are impacting eDiscovery today and how to think like a millennial to stay on top of those developing trends. Key topics include:

  • Understanding Millennials and How They Differ from Previous Generations
  • Drivers for Millennials’ Thinking Today
  • How Litigation Support and eDiscovery Has Evolved Over the Years
  • Challenges Posed by BIG Data and Variety of Data Sources
  • Ethical Duties and Rules for Understanding Technology
  • Impact of Millennials on Legal Technology and eDiscovery
  • Your Clients May Have More ESI Than You Think
  • Recommendations for Addressing Today and Future Technology Challenges

As always, I’ll be presenting the webcast, along with Tom O’Connor.  To register for it, click here.  Even if you can’t make it, go ahead and register to get a link to the slides and to the recording of the webcast (if you want to check it out later).  If you want to learn how the habits of millennials will impact your eDiscovery processes, this is the webcast for you!

So, what do you think?  Are you concerned about how the habits of millennials will impact your eDiscovery processes?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

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.

Another Case of Judicial “Friending”, But with a Different Result: eDiscovery Case Law

This is the second case we’ve seen recently regarding judges and Facebook “friendship” with other parties – here’s the other one where the case was the reversed and remanded for further proceedings before a different judge due to the judge’s Facebook “friendship” with one of the parties.  This time, it’s the judge’s Facebook friendship with one of the attorneys in the case.  This one had a different outcome.

In the Florida Bar Journal web site (Face-Off on Facebook: Judges and Lawyers as Social Media “Friends” in a Post-Herssein World, written by Ralph Artigliere, William F. Hamilton, David Hazouri, Jan L. Jacobowitz, and Meenu Sasser), the authors ask the question: “Should a judge be disqualified from a case based solely on a Facebook friendship with one of the attorneys?”

The Florida Supreme Court recently answered the question in the negative in Law Offices of Herssein & Herssein, P.A. v. United Servs. Auto. Ass’n, Case No. SC17-1848, (Fla. Nov. 15, 2018), when it held that “an allegation that a trial judge is a Facebook ‘friend’ with an attorney appearing before the judge, standing alone, is not a legally sufficient basis for disqualification.”

The decision brings Florida in line with the majority view in other states that “have adopted an attitude of, ‘it’s fine for judges to be on social media, but proceed with caution.’”

The authors do a great job discussing the scope of the decision, traditional standards for reasonable basis for a motion to disqualify, the explosion of social media, aspects of judicial disqualification historically and guidance for lawyers and judges after the decision, among other topics.  Instead of recounting them here, I encourage you to read the article.

When we covered the other case – In Re the Paternity of B.J.M., Appeal No. 2017AP2132 (Wis. App. Feb. 20, 2019) (technically after the case written about in the Florida Bar Journal site covered in this post) – in our webcast last week (Key eDiscovery Case Law Review for the First Half of 2019), I asked Tom O’Connor if judges should ever accept social media friend requests from litigants.  Of course, he gave the answer I would have expected: “it depends”.  In the case we covered, the judge deciding the motion accepted one of the party’s “friend” request on Facebook – after the parties had submitted their written arguments – and he ultimately ruled in her favor.  Even though the Judge didn’t “like” or comment on any of the party’s posts or reply to any of her comments on his posts, when he subsequently granted the party’s modification motion.  The Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, concluding that “the circuit court’s undisclosed ESM connection with a current litigant in this case created a great risk of actual bias, resulting in the appearance of partiality”, reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings before a different judge.  Clearly, timing played a part in that ruling.  So, should judges be friends with parties or attorneys appearing in their cases?  It depends.  :o)

So, what do you think?  Should judges accepting friend requests from litigants or attorneys disqualify them from ruling in their cases?  Please let us know if any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Case opinion link courtesy of eDiscovery Assistant.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

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.

Court Sanctions Plaintiff for Spoliation of Facebook Account: eDiscovery Case Law

Shark Week on the Discovery Channel concludes this weekend, which means Case Week on the eDiscovery Channel (a.k.a., eDiscovery Daily) concludes as well (don’t be sad, it will be back next year!).  During our webcast on Wednesday on Key eDiscovery Case Law Review for the First Half of 2019 (which, if you missed it, can be viewed here), Tom O’Connor and I discussed several cases that couldn’t quite get to the stage of issuing an adverse inference sanction for spoliation of ESI.  This case shows that there are still cases out there where these sanctions happen – when the intent to deprive is clear enough.

In Cordova v. Walmart Puerto Rico, Inc. et al., No. 16-2195 (ADC) (D.P.R. July 16, 2019), Puerto Rico District Judge Aida M. Delgado-Colon granted in part and denied in part the defendant’s motion to dismiss for fraud on the Court, denying the defendant’s request for dismissal, but imposing a sanction of adverse inference regarding the content of the plaintiff’s Facebook page and her deletion of the related account.  Judge Delgado-Colon also ordered the defendant to “submit a proposed adverse-inference jury instruction to that effect before trial.”

Case Background

In this case filed by the plaintiff against the defendant alleging unlawful discrimination, retaliation, and unjust dismissal, when the defendant issued a set of interrogatories and request for production of documents asking the plaintiff to disclose and produce information and documents regarding her social media accounts, among other requests. The plaintiff responded, in essence, that she once had a social media account, but that it was closed and that she did not recall the name under which she had the account.

The defendant filed a motion to compel, contending that “the discovery was relevant in order to address plaintiff’s allegations of disability and her substantial allegations of severe mental, psychological, moral and emotional pain anguish and distress, loss of happiness and loss of capacity to enjoy life.”  The plaintiff claimed that prior to the discovery request, she had lost her cell phone, after which “she tried to access [her] Facebook account using [her] home computer” but got blocked out for unsuccessful attempts to log into the account and when she got a new phone, she tried again to access her Facebook account but was unable to do so and she did not “ha[ve] access to [the] Facebook account ever again.”  In a meeting between parties, the plaintiff was unsuccessful in accessing her Facebook account.

However, on September 19, 2018, the defendant was able to identify plaintiff’s public Facebook profile under the name `Córdova Eigna’—essentially, plaintiff’s second last-name and her first name spelled backwards.  That account was opened in 2009, the plaintiff updated her cover photo on August 23, 2018, and included a comment about `living happily ever after’ and posted a comment regarding the same as recently as September 6, 2018.  That same afternoon, however, the account became unavailable.  As a result, the defendant filed a motion, asserting that the plaintiff was duplicitous about the Facebook discovery in question and requested case dismissal.

Judge’s Ruling

Judge Delgado-Colon found that “Mercado failed to comply with her obligation under Fed. R. Civ. 26(e) to supplement discovery responses to Walmart’s requests regarding her Facebook account. Specifically, taking as true Mercado’s contention that she was blocked out of said account for a period of time after having lost her cell phone, she was obligated to voluntarily inform Walmart when she later regained access and resumed her activities on Facebook. In that respect, the Court rejects Mercado’s explanation that she was unaware of having to do so because discovery had concluded, and Walmart’s summary judgment motion was pending adjudication. Those are not valid reasons for Mercado’s non-compliance with her disclosure obligations under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(e), especially regarding an ongoing, contentious discovery issue and given that Mercado has been represented by counsel at all times in this case.”

As a result, Judge Delgado-Colon granted in part and denied in part the defendant’s motion, stating: “Walmart’s request for dismissal is denied. However, the Court hereby imposes as sanction an adverse inference regarding the content of Mercado’s Facebook page and her deletion of the related account. Accordingly, Walmart shall submit a proposed adverse-inference jury instruction to that effect before trial.”

So, what do you think?  Did the spoliation warrant the adverse inference instruction?  Please let us know if any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Case opinion link courtesy of eDiscovery Assistant.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

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.