November 03, 2015 Articles

E-Discovery and the Internet of Things

The pervasive nature of online connectivity dramatically changes our lives, but it also brings material changes to electronic data in litigation

by Maureen O'Neil

In the last few years, a new phrase appeared in our lexicon: the “Internet of Things,” or IoT. The IoT refers to the ability of everyday objects to connect to the Internet, allowing these devices to gather, send, and receive data. Examples include wearable technology like watches and fitness bands that track how far we’ve walked and how many calories we’ve burned. Or smartphones that pinpoint which aisle of the store we’re in and show us relevant coupons. It also includes thermostats that know when we’re home, light bulbs that ask us if we’d prefer bright white light or soft yellow light, and cars that monitor our driving habits. 

The IoT promises to offer people, organizations, and society tremendous value and benefits. The IoT also poses mission-critical data security risks to many businesses and organizations. And it creates profound privacy concerns for all of us. The IoT also sits squarely in the intersection of technology and the law, and one of the most interesting implications in the legal arena will be its impact on discovery. Organizations already struggle to conduct legal discovery in a system awash with voluminous electronic information and data, and the IoT will further complicate how such information and data are discovered and used as evidence. 

Litigators will begin to feel the impact of IoT data discovery in following three ways. 

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