Data Dumping and Ethics – the New eDiscovery Problem

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Data Dumping

Data Dumping and Ethics – the New eDiscovery Problem

I don’t typically write about those in the legal industry. I think of them as seemingly sometimes chasing their tails, pursuing the promises of new technologies such as artificial intelligence. But, hey, you’ve got to give them credit, sometimes they find a winner. Anyway, I thought this was a very interesting article about the new approach by attorneys to bombard the opposing party with enormous amount of electronically stored information (ESI), so much so that the other party does not have the time, money, or patience to sort through it to try and find what it needs.

According to the article’s author, Jaliz Maldonado, “Data dumping in eDiscovery is when a party decides to over-provide information, whether it was requested or not, in an attempt to hide the needle of relevant information in a haystack of electronic documents. It makes it difficult and time-consuming to sift through the massive amount of information for relevant pieces, vastly increasing the costs to review the data for relevance.” Compounding the issue, ESI can comprise emails, documents, presentations, databases, voicemail, multimedia, social media, and websites, which means someone on staff must know how to expertly search these different forms of data.

As an example, in Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) v. Collins & Aikman Corp. (SDNY 2009), the SEC dumped more than 10 million pages on Collins & Aikman. The judge was not pleased, writing that Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure prohibits “simply dumping large quantities of unrequested materials onto the discovering party along with the items actually sought.” The SEC claimed that the plaintiff’s attorneys could find the information merely by reading it. Again, we have an unhappy judge stating, “A page-by-page manual review of ten million pages of records is strikingly expensive in both monetary and human terms and constitutes ‘undue hardship’ by any definition.”

According to Maldonado, “data dumping is occurring at an alarming rate.” We can also assume the number of unethical attorneys is increasing at an alarming rate. Hey, there are bad apples in any industry. Our weapon would be the conceptSearch component. conceptSearch is a high-performance, scalable insight engine incorporating a unique technology. Often used for government intelligence, the product employs our compound term processing technology. What does that do? Compound term processing identifies and forms multi-word terms, typically consisting of two to five words, which represent a concept, topic, subject, or even character stream that is meaningful to an organization. Search can be performed with a greater degree of accuracy because the ambiguity in single words is no longer a hindrance.

The compound term processing technology can isolate the key meaning, which is normally expressed as proper nouns, nouns phrases, and verb phrases. Although linguistic products can do this, their performance is highly variable, depending upon the vocabulary and language in use. Concept Searching technologies are based on a statistical, language-independent model that can accept queries in natural language, with users typing words, phrases, or whole sentences. The system then analyzes the natural language query, extracting the keywords and phrases to identify the main concepts and retrieve content that is highly relevant. The automatically generated metadata is classified to one or more taxonomies, and in the case of eDiscovery provides the ability to identify the ESI or run ad hoc queries.

So, there we have it. If you are an unethical attorney, you can add data dumping to your repertoire. If you are the recipient of data dumping, our software will deliver the competitive edge you need to rapidly find the ESI, regardless of where it resides.

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