Technology is connecting our lives like never before due to countless Wi-Fi enabled gadgets and thousands of mobile applications. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the ever-increasing network of devices that have their own IP address; think about your phone, smartwatch, GPS, tablets, Google Glass etc. Devices that were once standalone such as the thermostat, vehicle sensors, medical implants, alarm systems, and garage doors can now all be networked to the internet.
The IoT is the consumer-focused merger of operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT). IoT uses unstructured machine-generated data to be analyzed for product improvement. It is a step towards the futuristic movies life we’ve been promised for years. Where is my smart house and hoverboard? The benefits of this newly connected world provide a customized ecosystem of interconnected sensory devices performing coordinated, pre-programmed tasks without requiring continuous human input. No more fiddling with the thermostat or trying to remember if you closed the garage!
However, this automated data storage process is basically a fingerprint of your daily activity. If you should become a party to litigation, this data can potentially end up becoming part of legal discovery. Electronic discovery has already evolved with the inclusion of mobile devices and social media becoming part of litigation. There are unprecedented preservation and archiving issues for litigation support services and professionals that arise as a result of the IoT. This is because they are tasked with defensibly collecting and producing the data in line with more traditional eDiscovery data sources. In many instances, locating the source data itself is a nightmare. Assuming there is a way to extract the data stored only opens the Pandora’s Box of privacy issues. In fact, technology companies have invested billions in information governance to maintain access to the data created from IoT devices, causing discussion as to who actually controls data. Yes, that’s right, someone else owns your Fitbit data.
The IoT brings with it a lot of benefits that will continue to automate our lives and make us more comfortable. The question may not be how the eDiscovery industry responds, but to what extent this type of personal data is stored or discoverable.