EU promises data protection savings and reduced burdens on business

February 28, 2012

The European Commission has collected together information about its proposed reforms of the EU Data Protection Rules, including the press release of 21 January, the press conference with Vice President Viviane Reding of the same date, and a number of fact sheets, surveys, legislative texts and other information.

For those who like their source material raw, this is the place to look.

Vice President Reding has followed that up with an article on CNN called How Europe is Dealing with Online Privacy. Call me cynical, but if her “one-stop shop for businesses to deal with regulators”, and the employment of Eurocrats to run it, results in the promised reduction of administrative burdens and a saving of €2.3 billion a year for businesses then I will eat my proverbial hat. Read the rest of this entry »

Delay for Draconian Data Protection Regulation

January 18, 2012

The term “displacement activity” has a technical meaning in animal biology, something I am happy to leave to the animal biologists. The lay use of the term connotes some activity undertaken in order to avoid having to do something else which is both imminent and important. I spent most of the run-up to my College of Law exams, for example, writing stories and articles about things which interested me – anything to defer having to learn about trusts and torts.

I am fortunate that I eventually found a way to monetise my displacement activity, making a business out of writing stories and articles about things which interest me. Even now, however, it occasionally becomes necessary to focus on something inherently dull, and nothing can be duller than an EU regulation  (or, come to that, anything else which emanates from Brussels – even its scandals make one yawn). I was not therefore thrilled when someone leaked the draft texts of the General Data Protection Regulation and the Police and Criminal Justice Data Protection Directive, because that imposed a duty to read at least the first of these. It runs to 116 pages in its English-language version, so it could, if you printed it, serve as a pillow when your eyelids start to droop, as they will about three pages in.

A quick skim took me to the usual bit which describes how many more EU bureaucrats will be needed to carry on the good work, and I closed it quickly in case I broke something in rage (in the interests of wider Anglo-EU understanding, I should tell you that the French for “pen-pusher” is “gratte-papier”). Read the rest of this entry »

AccessData conference carries electronic discovery message to Germany

March 1, 2011

I am very much looking forward to moderating an electronic discovery conference in Frankfurt on 22 March. The hosts are AccessData and the speakers are drawn from a broad range of legal, technical and compliance backgrounds, and from well-known firms and companies such as the Luther Law Firm, Siemens AG, DRSDigital, Allen & Overy and Alvarez & Marsal. The programme is here.

Between them, these speakers will cover the growing importance of ediscovery in Germany, forensic services from the viewpoint both of those who collect and manage data and of those who advise on it, and matters of compliance and due diligence. Brian Karney, President and COO of AccessData, rounds the conference off with a session called Getting the Job Done: the Technology. My role is to open the show with a welcome and introduction, to keep us to time (no small challenge with this number of speakers crammed into one afternoon) and to lead the closing panel.

The number of corporate counsel at IQPCs ediscovery conference in Munich last year showed what an appetite there is for discussion about ediscovery in Germany. This is hardly surprising: Germany has the fifth largest economy in the world and the largest in Europe, with a 3.3% rise in GDP in 2010 following an earlier fall. Its exports in 2010 are estimated at $1.337 trillion; 6.7% of this went to the US, which also provided 5.9% of its imports.

That volume of trade with the US, quite apart from US investment interests, inevitably brings US-related litigation, regulatory and compliance implications. Germany’s position in the EU brings growing activity of the same kind, both from Brussels and of domestic origin. The last two years have seen Germany as one of the leading (perhaps the leading) player in the development of data protection and privacy activity. Like other civil countries of mainland Europe, Germany has no discovery tradition such as is found in the US, the UK and other common law countries.

There is, therefore, much to learn in a short time. Anecdotally at least, there seems to be recognition of this, at least amongst the bigger German companies and I anticipate a good turnout for an event as broadly structured as this one and with a cast of this calibre.

The venue is the Schlosshotel Kronberg outside Frankfurt. Who could not warm to an establishment which describes itself as Very Britisch and talks of Tradition, Hightea-Kultur und Schlossatmosphäre (Tradition, high-tea culture and castle atmosphere) which, it says “are inevitably associated with Great Britain”. Quite so. The conference finishes with a dinner at which I suspect the day’s discussions will continue.
There are places left for this event. The AccessData contact details are on the programme.

Catching an eyeful in Leeds and a snowfall in Munich

December 3, 2010

The paucity of posts lately may lead you to think that all is quiet on the e-disclosure / e-discovery front. It is in fact a symptom of the opposite – there has been more than enough to keep me amused, and on things which seem to point to an increase in e-disclosure activity. My side-interest in civil liberties has provided a diversion, and I took a daring Saturday off to go to Leeds for a Phoenix Fall gig.

I have recorded October’s trips to Washington, Canada and Singapore. November has brought a London conference and one in Washington which I have yet to write up. I am just back from Munich for IQPC’s Information Retention and e-Discovery Exchange which I will also write up shortly.

These trips are the icing on a cake whose main ingredient is domestic and below the surface. I have been to a couple of major regional cities to talk to firms with the potential to capture work from larger but less agile players, and done the same with some London law firms. The expressed motive behind their invitations is to hear about the Practice Direction and Electronic Documents Questionnaire, which gives me the opportunity to suggest to solicitors that we have a window in which we can shape e-disclosure as we think it should be. The window will close if we start seeing judgments which apply old principles to new problems.

You will see shortly from my pending report of an impressive judicial panel at the Georgetown Advanced e-Discovery Institute that the developments in England & Wales – the Practice Direction, the Goodale judgment, the Birmingham costs-management trial, the spate of cases – are exciting attention in the home of electronic discovery; all we have to do is make the practice conform to the framework of rules which others are beginning to envy. If there is plenty to fear (have a look at these cases, for example), there is also opportunity to capture work from others and to offer new skills to clients. Read the rest of this entry »

A useful guide to sources on EU Data Privacy Laws

November 8, 2010

The Guidance Software Newsroom carries a new article by Denise Backhouse of the eData Practice of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP headed Master European Data Privacy Laws. I refer you to it because it is expressly intended as a guide to useful sources of information on EU data privacy and data protection, a subject which exercises many US lawyers but not, apparently, to the extent that they feel the need to learn about it in advance of their next major EU data collection exercise. Denise’s article may help them to understand what the issues are.

One key to understanding the problem is to know that no one has all the answers, and Denise rightly draws attention to the need to take local advice in each jurisdiction in which the data may have to be collected. As she points out, a “jurisdiction” is not just the whole EU, nor merely any legal state within the EU, but can include smaller units like individual Länder in Germany. Knowing even that much is a good start for those who tend to approach EU data collections as if the writ of an American court runs everywhere.

Denise and I were on a Guidance Software panel at IQPC’s conference in Brussels last year, and were more recently on a London panel organised by Recommind. The subject comes up again on a panel I am on at Georgetown on 18th and 19th November, and Denise and I are covering the subject, together with Master Whitaker at IQPC’s Document Retention and EDiscovery conference in Munich starting on 29 November. I am moderating, and Denise is the main speaker, as befits her status as one of the few US lawyers who is authoritative on the subject. Master Whitaker will talk about the use (and misuse) of the Hague Convention, and I will talk about the cultural differences which lie at the root of the conflict between US demands for documents and EU unwillingness to part with them.

You need practical as well as legal help when stepping into the deep waters of EU data collection, and that means a technology supplier with experience in the area. Sticking to those who have come to my attention recently (so don’t all write in if I have missed you off my list), FTI have recently announced a new consultancy service FTI Investigate aimed at helping with EU collections, I have written a paper (not yet published) about Iron Mountain’s services on this subject, Epiq Systems has a fully-staffed office in Brussels, and Trilantic (now part of Huron Consulting Group) has a section of its website which links to the laws of every relevant jurisdiction.

Look, perhaps, at the list of those sponsoring the IQPC Munich event referred to above which, in addition to most of those already mentioned above, includes AccessData, Alvarez & Marsal, Clearwell, Commvault, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Symantec. They will be there because this is territory which they know, so ring one (or more) of them up before you pack your bags to set off on what may appear to be a routine data collection exercise. But perhaps read Denise’s article first, and follow some of its useful links.


Turning e-discovery news and views into a community of interest

September 21, 2010

Those of us who work in e-discovery / e-disclosure get better and better at passing information and views between ourselves.  Web sites, blogs and Twitter allow us to keep up with developments – new products, company news and cases – in a market which changes all the time. Improvements in the mechanics of information delivery do not make it easier for new readers (which is the audience which matters) to understand it all. Can we turn this stream of information into a community of interest?

The word “community” has been hi-jacked by the woolly thinkers of the soft left. Private Eye runs a regular column pillorying those who write of meaningless “communities” whenever two or more people have some characteristic in common.  The expression “community of interest” has a meaning worth keeping, however, and is correctly used (and hard to replace) when different groups have common ground. The one in which I am interested is the loose assembly of lawyers, their clients, judges and technology providers who aspire to the proportionate use of electronic documents in litigation. That aspiration is purely notional in many cases, mainly because many of the players do not fully understand what the others need or can offer.

This article began as a way of covering many apparently disparate pieces of news or information in one place. As I wrote it, themes began to emerge which mapped on to some of the conversations which I have with lawyers seeking a quick ramp into the broad options which they face when e-disclosure becomes inevitable. We who have grown up as the industry grew up throw names and terms at each other, as if the audience shared the building-blocks of knowledge. They do not. Running several stories together may make for a long article, with loops and digressions as I expand on things which seem obvious to industry regulars, but those to whom it is all new may find that helpful.

One of the links which I intended to pass on anyway happened to be an interview in which Richard Susskind argued for better use of social media and for the development of a community of interest between the participants in the wider legal IT industry. That neatly tied in with my plan to base this article round a series of tweets, and suggested by extension that Twitter provides a ready-made core for such a community. It does so already for those on the inside. We need to invite the users in. Read the rest of this entry »

International eDiscovery Panel at CEIC

May 31, 2010

There is one major difference between the general run of discovery problems and those relating to international and cross-border discovery. The former are soluble – competence and co-operation coupled with judicial management would fix most ediscovery problems tomorrow; the trans-jurisdictional issues involve serious conflicts, not just of laws but of culture. As things stand, these seem irreconcilable, and it sometimes feels that the best we can do is to make people aware of and sensitive to the issues.

The panel assembled to discuss these matters at CEIC was well-qualified. M James Daley of Daley & Fey, LLP is Co-Chair of The Sedona Conference Working Group on International Electronic Information Management, Discovery and Disclosure (WG6) and a member of a delegation which recently met with the Article 29 Working Party in Brussels (see my article Sedona Conference WG6 presentation to Article 29 Working Party in Brussels. Dominic Jaar of Ledjit Consulting Inc., is Chief Executive Officer at Canadian Centre for Court Technology and is a member of The Sedona Conference’s working groups 1 (USA) and 6 (International). George Rudoy of Shearman & Sterling, LLP has more practical experience than almost anyone of managing and doing foreign data collections. Patrick Burke of Guidance Software was the moderator. Read the rest of this entry »


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