The Preservation of Metadata within eDiscovery and Civil Litigation Exercises is Crucial.
What is Metadata?
Preserving metadata is crucial within eDiscovery and civil litigation exercises. Metadata is the information generated within a piece of electronic data and is effectively the ‘data about the data’. Metadata exists within every digital item and physical devices such as your computer and smartphone. These devices may also collect metadata about your usage, creating a footprint. These properties may be automatically generated by your File System, operating system, or the application you are using.
Metadata in Review
The data points every file carries with it includes information about;
- The device it came from
- When it was created
- When it was last modified
- What the name of file is
- Where it was found in the filing system.
All of this information is crucial to the electronic tools that are used to filter, sort, prioritise and evaluate the electronically stored information (ESI) before producing it.
Metadata in Litigation
Metadata is fragile, as opening or previewing documents will alter their last access date. Copying a file can change the creation date to the date it was copied. Saving a file can alter its last modified date and some applications carry the original author’s name even if another person copies the file and modifies it. If metadata is needed for litigation, it is imperative not to ‘peek’ just to see what exists because doing so will alter the metadata.
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