Big data doesn't mean big litigation

| Print |  Email
Articles - June 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

BY DARIN M. SANDS AND KRISTEN TRANETZKI

The term “big data” commonly refers to all the digital information we now create, disseminate and store. It largely consists of unstructured data such as web pages, tweets, Internet search histories, digital images, sensor signals, purchase history transactions, and GPS signals from cell phones and cars. According to the research firm IDC, 2.8 “zettabytes” (2.8 billion terabytes) of data were created in 2012 alone, an almost 50% increase from 2011. It is expected that this number will grow to 40 zettabytes by 2020.

Businesses have sought to curate and process this data using complex software and algorithms to provide useful analytics and to derive business insights. Big data can tell us customer preferences based on prior purchases and search histories. It has been used for everything from estimating the number of shoppers on Black Friday using cell phone locator data to detecting potential side effects of prescription medicines by tracking patients’ medical data. The potential for these insights is nearly unlimited.

And the benefits are not just for Amazon, Google and the major companies in the Silicon Forest, either. Smaller businesses are investing in big-data technology and are teaming up with vendors to harness this data. Perhaps your business is one of them.

But businesses that want to use big data should be mindful of not just the opportunities it provides but also the potential pitfalls, especially where there is latent litigation risk. Here are three tips for mitigating that risk, and though all require an investment of time and money up front, the cost savings in the long run can be significant.

1. Have a Written Data-Retention Policy (and stick to it):

With the exponential increase in data being stored comes the threat that all that data will have to be searched, and potentially produced, if your company becomes involved in litigation or receives a third-party subpoena. The costs of such efforts can be staggering. To reduce these costs and associated risks, businesses should carefully assess how and what kinds of big data is being collected and stored (including data provided by and to outside vendors). And based on this assessment, tailor a written retention policy that goes beyond just paper documents and email, and defines whether and when all types of data should be destroyed. The policy should both provide for the length of time the data is kept and how it is destroyed. Employees should receive training on the policy, and regular monitoring should be conducted to ensure compliance.

2. Have a Plan for E-Discovery.

Businesses should also proactively prepare a plan for dealing with big data after the obligation to preserve and produce data if litigation arises. Failing to do so properly can significantly impair a company’s litigation position and add substantially to underlying litigation costs. Businesses should work with knowledgeable counsel in advance of any litigation to create a plan of how to tackle electronic discovery in a cost-effective, efficient and defensible way. Being prepared to navigate discovery burdens before the onset of litigation will help reduce litigation expenses and may even provide a strategic litigation advantage.

3. Understand Privacy Regulations.

Advancements in big data have also raised new concerns about complying with evermore complex privacy regulations. A breach in data security (such as from an outside hacker or a careless employee) can create substantial litigation exposure. Businesses should work with counsel proactively to remain apprised on evolving regulations governing big data’s collection and use, to ensure that they are doing everything they can to properly secure sensitive and protected information. Such steps can mitigate exposure even if the unthinkable happens and secure data is lost.

0613 BOB Information 010613 BOB Information 02Darin M. Sands is co-chair of Lane Powell’s Electronic Discovery, Technology and Strategy Practice group.

Kristen Tranetzki is an attorney at Lane Powell, where she focuses on securities litigation, banking and lender liability, and white-collar criminal defense.

 

More Articles

Brain Storm

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CAMILLE GRIGSBY-ROCCA

Can the brave new world of neurotechnology help an OHSU surgeon find a cure for obesity?


Read more...

Best Foot Forward

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Whether you're stepping out to work or onto the track, Pacific Northwest shoe companies have you covered.


Read more...

Fixing Oregon’s broken roads

The Latest
Tuesday, June 09, 2015
RUCCostComparison rev4-30BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The technology at the center of Oregon’s road usage fee reform.


Read more...

Stemming the tide of money in politics

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
 jeff-lang-2012-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Jeff Lang and his wife Rae used to dole out campaign checks like candy.  “We were like alcoholics,” Lang says. ”We couldn’t just give a little.”


Read more...

Farm in a Box

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Most of the food Americans consume is trucked in from hundreds of miles away. Eric Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Gro-volution, wants to change that. So this past spring, the Air Force veteran and former greenhouse manager started work on an alternative farming system he claims is more efficient than conventional agriculture, and also shortens the distance between the consumer and the farm.


Read more...

10 Innovators in Rural Health

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Telemedicine, new partnerships and real estate diversification make health care more accessible in rural Oregon.


Read more...

Staffing Challenge

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Greg Lambert, president of Mid Oregon Personnel Services.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS