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eDiscovery and the monster in the vault

Past failure cannot be taken as a signpost for the way things will be in the future, so the inability of the US and UK financial regulatory authorities to spot the credit bubble from 20 paces, or the world’s largest Ponzi scheme even when pointed out to them in neon lighting, should not be taken as a sign that regulation can be ignored.

What is almost certain is that these regulatory paper tigers are about to be forced to become real, and with it will come new zeal for enforcing regulatory compliance leading to an increase in eDiscovery and eDisclosure requests.

If, for example, the FSA knock at the door with a demand for information what do you do? There will be a deadline, and there are plenty of cases of well known companies being fined very heavily for non-disclosure within the time specified, so life can get fraught and very expensive.

The reality is that, unless there are sophisticated data management systems in place, by the time a demand for disclosure is made it is often too late. Where large volumes of data are stored in tape archives has to be re-instated somewhere, inspected and the required data found and returned. This can be quite an onerous task even with a properly maintained archive catalog.

Our experience is that vague requests for information regarding the transfer of data from a couple of hundred tapes often undergo a metamorphosis to become an urgent requirement to track down particular files from some or all of the tapes, “and it must be done by next Tuesday”. It usually transpires that the deadline is for regulatory purposes.

There is a lot that can be done in advance of any disclosure demands, including the following:

  • Assess the potential task. If you hold large volumes of data on tape do you have all of the hardware and infrastructure in place to recover data when required?
  • Is the archive adequately catalogued so to allow the rapid identification of any required data.
  • Do you have the operational capacity within your IT department to deal with a demand for data whilst still maintaining daily operations.

If the answer to any of these is “no” then the cost saving in avoiding re-cataloguing and possibly data migration to new media might soon be revealed to be a false economy.

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