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Posted on: January 13, 2015

in Blog

The Shape of Things to Come – The Internet of Things


Smart devices may yield huge problems for privacy and litigation discovery. I don’t think we’re going too far out to make the following predictions...

The  Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is considered to be the world’s largest annual trade show. Always promising the latest in devices for entertainment and convenience, it dwarfs our Legal Techs and ILTAs. The orgy of phones, televisions, home appliances, watches and every manner of gadget attracts 160,000 visitors in the equivalent of 35 football fields.

FTC Chair Edith Ramirez gave a keynote speech about the coming age and risk of the IoT - “Internet of Things”.

“Whether it is a remote valet parking assistant, which allows drivers to get out of their cars and remotely guide their empty car to a parking spot; a new fashionable bracelet that allows consumers to check their texts and see reviews of nearby restaurants; or smart glucose meters, which make glucose readings accessible both to those afflicted with diabetes and their doctors, the IoT has the potential to transform our daily lives. Just looking around this room, I can see smart health bands everywhere, tracking our steps and movements in the hopes of fulfilling our New Year’s resolutions…”

“As we embark on a new year, observers have made a number of predictions for the IoT. We are told that, in 2015, the world will have 25 billion connected devices; the number of smart home devices will reach nearly 25 million; and IoT software platforms will become the rage.”

In case you’ve been living in a cave or otherwise off the grid, the IoT (Internet of Things) is the interconnection of devices that collect and deliver a wealth of personal and consumer information and instruction, presumably at our command. The Chair of the FTC spoke to CES about ubiquitous data collection, the potential for unexpected uses of consumer data that could have adverse consequences, and heightened security risks. CES has “electronics” as its middle name, so it is a good place to watch to see what might happen with electronic discovery.

How Smart Devices Will Affect Privacy and Litigation Discovery

A little more than a year ago, the D4 Discover More blog addressed issues of Bio-eDiscovery. And a month later it predicted that these smart devices will yield huge problems for privacy and litigation discovery. “We will want to know, particularly with respect to those ubiquitous devices and technologies, which of those will we be asked to preserve and produce? How much of the data contained therein will be at issue in civil litigation?” I don’t think we’re going too far out to make the following predictions:

  1. There will be at least one set of lawsuits dealing with alleged failure of wearable consumer health monitoring devices to deliver either timely or correct health care information.
  2. Smart devices in the home will be the object of hacking for theft, hacking for pranks, and possibly, the failure of major home appliances and systems to yield to the reasonable commands of their owners.
  3. The computer forensic industry will struggle to catch up with capabilities to capture and preserve smartwatches, personal health monitoring devices, smart home devices, and the metadata from the software and networks on which they run.
  4. Even as we move to more mechanically derived requirements for preservation of ESI, we will stretch our current understandings of what is in fact ESI to include the steady stream of real-time data being generated and consumed by the Internet of Things.
  5. Product integrity, products liability and construction defects will depend increasingly on computer code for 3D printing. Factors such as selection of materials, traditional manufacturing, and workflow will begin to become secondary considerations.
  6. Information Governance a year from now will shift from the oversight of known data sets such as email, document creation, voice and text to the oversight of inadvertently created, stored, lost, or stolen streams of data from smart devices that we make or use in the workplace.

How should we get in shape to prepare for the shape of things to come? 

First, let’s stop thinking about eDiscovery as just email and files, and “Big Data” as just more email and files and “dark pools” of more of the same.

The work we have in a future that is too immediate to believe is very large streams of primarily structured data that is messy to analyze, difficult to correlate to other streams, and literally impossible to review or code in any way similar to how we review and code now.

The tools we currently use as “mainstream” eDiscovery tools will need to adapt, or they won’t work. Think about tools that will allow you visualize and analyze large volumes of information, and analytics that will allow you to query not so much for words and dates, but for meaning and correlation. See you there!

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