Monday, March 06, 2006

When law tries to catch up with technology!

If you put A4 sheets one after another over a 1 mile length of road, you have the equivalent of 25 GB. Some companies handle thousands of GB, and in the US, about 95% of their information is in an electronic format. Imagine the amount of data out there.

Consider this. Earlier, when you are entangled in a dispute with a company, most of the data was in paper and could be searched through for potential evidence with only limited costs. Now when the amount of data has multiplied how does the law deal with it? E-discovery litigation!

In US, right now the onus of data-retention is on the company, even when you don't have a lawsuit. For not doing so may invite charges of spoliation of evidence which would seriously damage your defense. You can know more about the issue at e-discovery. For a more succint understanding read E-Discovery Firms Search Data for Evidence.

I heard anecdotes of the ballooning costs of companies wrt e-discovery. Companies need an expert to retrieve all their previous data (technical search costs) and process that data through attorneys (legal search costs). Legal search costs may be 10 times the technical search costs. There may well be outsourcing on this front! Excessive preparation for litigation by companies will generate costs that will finally be passed onto consumers.

Anyways, the news is that it has generated a growing market at the edges of technology and law. The lesson to ponder for public policy is what "rules of the game" are efficient? The costs of data storage and technical search costs will be cheaper in the future. However the costs of enforcement of data retention are high. Imagine making sure that every employee in a company follows the rules of storing their relevant information in a standard manner including emails. (And I didn't know till now that emails are not deleted when you press delete, they can still be retrieved!)

What are the new "rules of the game"? How is the Indian law preparing to handle this issue?

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