What is my Refrigerator Doing on the Witness List?

26 June 2014 by Adrienn Toth

The custodian list on the last edisclosure matter I worked on involved 6 custodians and looked similar to this:

Rob Alexander Tom Jones Chris Van Winkle Danielle Chapman Marketing Groupshare (H: Drive) Marketing Collateral (paper)

In the near future, I expect it could look like something like this:

Rob Alexander Samsung RB RB31FERN Fridge (s/n: 763423253RB) Britannia Q Line Dual Fuel Cooker (s/n: R-454712131D) KitchenAid Pro Line Toaster (s/n: KMT4945603CA)

Why? Well, because your employment matter might depend on the times Rob made cheesy toast and the smart toaster might be the only evidence available. Or the product liability matter against your client might depend on the pool of structured data collected by temperature sensors in refrigerators across England and communicated to the manufacturing database. Alternatively, your malpractice case might hinge on the communications between medical devices.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has exploded. Not literally of course, but IDC, a global market intelligence firm, estimates in an infographic that at the end of 2013 there were 9.1 billion IoT units installed globally and given the projected rate of growth by the year 2020 there will be 28.1 billion units contributing to the IoT and adding to the amount of discoverable data in the world. Gartner, the technology and research firm, states in a study that the technology and storage infrastructure in existence now may not be sufficient to hold the enormous amounts of data generated by the IoT.

As businesses are encouraged to reap the benefits of the IoT and technological advances make analysing big data easier and faster it’s only be a matter of time before this data is called upon as evidence to make a case. I am not advocating the immediate collection of appliance data, nor serving your client's kitchen with a preservation notice, but the idea that email, loose files, and the occasional bankers box of paper is the bulk of your data sources is an outdated one.

So have a serious think about what types of data your client owns and where it resides, because as the IoT grows it may very well be everywhere.