December 17, 2014 Articles

The Intersection of Data Privacy and E-Discovery

Although it is infrequently addressed, there is a significant nexus between the two concepts.

By Andrea Donovan Napp

In the wake of data breach announcements by several major retailers, data privacy and security are hot topics in the legal community. Similarly, most litigators are likely tired of being subjected to endless articles and presentations on the pitfalls of e-discovery. Seldom, however, does anyone discuss the intersection of these related issues, which have their roots in “big data.” Although it is infrequently addressed, there is a significant nexus between the two concepts that grows more pronounced as the volume of data generated multiplies exponentially and the ability of e-discovery tools to collect and process the data grows increasingly sophisticated. Specifically, the e-discovery process presents a very real risk of unintentionally compromising personal identifying information (PII). While there is the real possibility that law firms might be subject to attack by hackers seeking to access what they perceive as vulnerable repositories of valuable data, there is a much more mundane, yet equally harmful threat: the inadvertent disclosure of PII through the routine document production process.

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