Many businesses now keep records that are almost completely digital, meaning that they are saved on computers or in the cloud and can, by accident or intentionally, be erased at the push of a button. However, a business that is facing or involved in litigation needs to put a digital information preservation strategy in place. Those carefully collected business records are likely key evidence in the lawsuit they’re facing and deleting or tampering with those records mean businesses could face significant fines and sanctions over the course of the lawsuit.
Long Term Digital Preservation Policy
If your business records are electronic, then you want to think about how you’re going to preserve those records over the long term. Part of this can, and should, be accomplished through having a regular backup policy to ensure viruses, malicious employees, and curious hackers can’t get into your system and immediately erase your entire business.
However, digital media can also have a fairly short life-span, so your digital preservation strategy should also look at how to preserve information as file formats and storage devices change. This may mean periodically revisiting information older than a certain number of years to ensure it’s still accessible and readable and converting it to a new format if it is not.
Digital media such as tape, floppy disks, and even CDs have become obsolete since computers have been used for business. Many computers now do not even have DVD drives, but instead rely on external drives to access information stored on solid media. Further, this physical media can degrade over time, making it difficult or impossible to read, even with a device capable of reading it.
Information can be refreshed, meaning moved from it’s old physical storage to a new storage medium before the old one is obsolete. Information can also be migrated, which involves moving the files from one storage technology to another. Finally, digital information can be emulated, which focuses on applications, allowing users to access the original data through software that mimics the original software but can run on the modern platform.
Old Digital Information and Legal Discovery
While many lawsuits center around a particular controversy that occurred in relatively recent history, there are still situations where you will need to dig further back in your archives. You may want evidence that establishes a pattern of behavior over a long period of time. You may need to access information related to a “cold case” that is now coming to light based on newly discovered evidence.
While all records can be considered evidence in the right case, but especially since the publication of the Sedona Principles, which guide electronic discovery, the idea of digital evidence has broadened beyond simply financial records to look at metadata, transaction logs, browser history, databases, computer memory, GPS logs, and much more. Preserving this evidence and showing the chain of custody for trial is one aspect of what a lawyer must manage when bringing the evidence as part of litigation. From showing that the computer equipment is reliable to demonstrating that the documents have not been tampered with, there are stringent requirements for digital evidence.
Whether you face an audit or a business lawsuit, the experienced team of litigators at the Dunn Law Firm are here to help. We will work hard to protect your business, work with you to preserve and present digital evidence, and work to handle the lawsuit as efficiently as possible so you can go back to focusing on growing your business. To learn more, reach out to the Dunn Law Firm by calling (435) 628-5405 and set up a free consultation today.