Web 2.0 Collides with e-Discovery

Posted on June 6, 2008. Filed under: Social Media, Web 2.0 |

There’s an interesting Law.com article that charts the collision of Web 2.0 with e-discovery.

For starters, this article offers a great, basic introduction to the concept of Web 2.0.  It also highlights the importance of understanding the basics of Web 2.0 as it relates to discovery requests in litigation.  

In short, if you don’t understand the technology, then you can’t properly respond to discovery requests relating to the technology and could very well face sanctions or otherwise negatively impact the pending litigation.

From the article:

You have received a document request from opposing counsel. Among the various items of calendar entries and e-mails requested is a request for “Any and all social networking or business networking information related to the key player(s).”

This raises questions of what is in scope, where is it, how much is enough, and who is responsible for producing it? Welcome to the collision between Web 2.0 and electronic data discovery…

Web 2.0 is defined as a trend in Web technology aimed at facilitating information sharing and collaboration among users by using the Internet as a platform.

In short, Web 2.0 services promote network effects from user contributions creating a far-reaching collective intelligence.

A classic example is the Wikipedia phenomenon where information is constantly created, edited and in some cases deleted by different end users…

Web 2.0 features that enable or increase the frequency of cross-linking or content creation by users may be creating either: (a) content or (b) context that becomes relevant in a given litigation. Contextual information is often referred to as metadata…

(I)f a company employee posts information (large amounts, such as blog posts, or small amounts, such as a link to a business contact) to an Internet site or service, is that information susceptible to discovery? Has Web 2.0 created another container or location of relevant data that counsel must pay attention to in advocating on behalf of their client?

If you find the answer to be yes, then what other aspects of that information become discoverable? Would metadata, other references, prior or reply comments, or even who looked at the information ever be relevant? If so, then you may be knee deep in Web 2.0.

As has always been the case, technology develops and the law catches up. Web 2.0 is now allowing users to not only retrieve and read information, but also leave and/or change information on widely dispersed systems in ways that may have value only because the data is part of a much larger pool of data. To the extent that this new information is relevant to litigation, developing an awareness of Web 2.0 and then navigating this new world will become a new wrinkle in the already intricate world of e-discovery.

Nicole Black

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