US Court Rules on eDiscovery Metadata

US Court Rules on eDiscovery Metadata

By Greg McNevin

January 15, 2009: According to the US digital investigation specialist Guidance Software, a recent court ruling has underscored the importance of preserving and maintaining file metadata throughout the eDiscovery process.

The company has issued a legal alert to draw attention to the case of Aguilar v. Immigration & Customs Enforcement Div. of U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Security, where a US District Court issued a definitive ruling providing that the U.S. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that metadata associated with emails and electronic files be preserved, maintained and produced in the course of legal discovery.

If there wasn’t enough already, the ruling provides further incentive for companies to get their eDiscovery processes in order lest they risk steep fines. However, it also reinforces the fact that metadata (such as when a file was created or accessed) can be used as evidence as well as for authentication, search and analysis functions.

Guidance says that as eDiscovery best practices are delineated and ultimately determined by the courts, this case is particularly important as it dispels any uncertainty concerning the legal requirements for metadata preservation.

“The ruling by the Aguilar court is yet another decision that underlines the compelling value of [solutions such as] EnCase eDiscovery,” said Victor Limongelli, President & CEO of Guidance Software. “eDiscovery is all about complying with court requirements and our EnCase technology enables compliance in a highly scalable, cost-effective and defensible manner.”

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