The advent of cloud computing will inevitably impact the electronic discovery and records management landscape in the years to come.  "Computing in the clouds" commonly refers to the dispersed storage of data and software programs in the cloud, or in servers across state and national boundaries rather than across an entity's local network.  Usually, an entity, small or large, hires a cloud computing vendor which offers storage space on one or more of its many servers.  The dispersed nature of the data storage means that the data is not stored in the traditional repository paradigm reflected in many corporate networks, i.e., a user's My Documents or live e-mail bins, deleted or archived e-mails, a department's shared network, ... 

While cloud computing may be a boon to information technology budgets, it presents challenges to the legal community that has already faced an abundance of case law developments in the area of electronic discovery, particularly as they relate to ethical issues. For example, lawyers and electronic specialists must now design and implement protocols for maintaining and collecting data dispersed across a cloud, as data may have associated user (or other) definitions and settings that are disparate from those associated with more "tangible" data repositories.  Other issues involve the identification of the owners of the data (especially if the vendor or client changes ownership), the collection of data that might be located on servers in foreign countries that may be less receptive to discovery, i.e., in the form of blocking statutes or privacy laws that ban certain types of discovery or cross-border data transport, potential security and confidentiality breaches, data destruction procedures, etc.  Legal and electronic discovery professionals familiar with the ever changing law and technologies will be at the forefront of this new frontier, which will require the development of new methodologies and case by case solutions.

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Categories: Electronic Discovery | Technology

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