Remember when paper-based evidence was deemed irrefutable? There it was, in the prosecutor’s hands, often being waved about for effect in front of the jury. Well, those days apparently are gone.
As reported by eDiscovery Daily, “the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York … upheld a spoliation sanction against a plaintiff that failed to preserve electronic files and discarded his computer containing those files.” Even though the plaintiff’s bookkeeper had printed the files in question, the Court noted that “converting the files from their native format to hard-copy form would have resulted in the loss of discoverable metadata.” And therein lies the rub.
What this means is that hard-copy documents may no longer stand as worthy substitutes for the electronically-stored information they embody. Because they lack the attendant time/date stamps and other forensic data that can reveal so much about where those documents went and what happened they got there, they really only tell part of the story, and, often, the least important part.
Coupled with the recent revelations about the NSA’s use of metadata to track people’s mobile and online activities, this news item further demonstrates just how much metadata is now rivaling actual data as a critical element to be properly managed and safeguarded. Information professionals worth their salt have known this for years, but now, thanks to the notorious federal agency and the aforementioned Court, the word is clearly getting out.
How does your organization approach its metadata management? Do you have a plan in place or are you figuring that everything is okay because you never had a problem before? Don’t be caught by surprise – let us help you orchestrate yours today.