It gets ever harder to describe the functionality of eDiscovery software as data-types multiply and functions expand to manage them. The marketing teams understandably want to give prominence to new features, undiluted by the wider picture, but the result is sometimes a patchwork in which it is difficult for the new reader to see the whole. It is easy enough to blast out a press release about new functionality, less so to weave the new features into existing marketing.
An example arises when functionality is added to deal with a new data type such as voice, chat, social media etc. The press releases inevitably focus on that, and the reader might easily overlook that the primary objective is to fit the new data-type into the mainstream, treating it so far as is possible in the same way as email and the other more conventional sources of data. The reviewer needs data-types from one source to sit alongside data-types from another in chronological or whatever other order is useful to the reviewer. An email turns up next to the photograph taken on the same day, followed by a Facebook post and so on, and a seamless narrative is created.
If I pick on FTI Ringtail as an example, it is not because FTI’s rivals don’t achieve this. It is partly because of a recently-released FTI video which makes the point well (they are good at these), and partly because, released at last from back-to-back events, I have been going through old meeting notes and turned up one of a conversation with FTI’s JR Jenkins at ILTA.
I have been banging on a lot this year about non-traditional sources of data and the importance of at least thinking about whether it is relevant. Obvious examples are audio and social media sources, both of which, as it happens, are particular strengths of Ringtail.
The short video which was the trigger for this thought is about Ringtail’s ability to manage social media. It takes as an example a Facebook post with a photograph, Comments, Likes etc, and shows how this kind of data can be assimilated into Ringtail, viewed and tagged like any other, and appear in search results, in Ringtail’s Mapper and other visualisation tools, and in predictive coding exercises.
The video also serves as a subliminal warning to those of us who make social media posts that apparently trivial jottings can end up years later as part of an eDiscovery exercise – or, of course, because security services or commercial entities have an interest in knowing more about you.
You may perhaps think that this kind of data is not yet mainstream and not something you should be worrying about. If so, you may like to read a post by Gordon Exall on his Civil Litigation Brief called Evidence, the Internet and Social Media: Facebook and YouTube expose defendant, which concerns Cirencester Friendly Society v Parkin where the defendant “ ..seemed incapable of keeping off the Internet and showing the true nature of his activities through social media”; his posts damned his claim.
This assimilation of data types appears also in FTI’s materials about Ringtail’s Audio Discovery Service, one of the points emphasised at my meeting with JR Jenkins. He talked about silence detection, noise removal, speaker recognition and other functionality which, again, appears as part of Ringtail search and review and, as JR Jenkins put it, “brings audio in line with other workflow”.
Graphic from FTI
Why does this matter? Well, it is increasingly important to be able to Find Facts Fast (I use capitals because that is a tagline which FTI is using to good effect at the moment – see this article in the Telegraph of 6 November), but there is a more specific requirement in respect of audio data – the Dodd-Frank requirement that audio recordings must be produced within five business days of the regulator’s request, and similar requirements in other jurisdictions. A request may be very specific, requiring the identity of the relevant traders, recordings in which they feature, and the content which is relevant either to specific to general requests.
The request is unlikely to be for audio only – thus the significance of being able to review it alongside emails and other contemporaneous relevant material.
First, of course, you have to be aware that any or all of this stuff – audio, social media and the rest – may be as important as the emails and Word files. How would you manage it if a case turned up tomorrow which involved such data?