Electronically Stored Information (ESI)
What is Electronically Stored Information?
Any data that is created, edited, shared, or stored in a digital format is considered electronically stored information (ESI). The term was added to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) in 2006 in order to help define the eDiscovery process and enable parties involved in litigation to request electronically stored information as part of Discovery.
Why is ESI Important?
The amount of electronic data produced and stored is huge and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 50% in the coming years. At the same time, the number of lawsuits is also growing, and, with that, comes the demand for ESI to be produced as part of the Discovery process.
Being prepared for potential litigation means that companies need to be prepared to make ESI available upon request. To do so, they also need to know exactly what constitutes ESI and what are the best ways to make sure they are capturing and archiving the information in a way that will make it easy to access and provide to the relevant stakeholders when necessary.
What Types of Data are ESI?
Typically, most ESI can be categorized as the information created or stored in the following:
- Documents and spreadsheets
- Digital photographs
- Voicemail messages
- Third-party messaging apps (i.e. WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, etc.)
- Social media posts
- IoT devices
- Team collaboration tools (i.e. Slack, MS Teams)
- Meeting recordings (i.e. Zoom, Google Meet)
The data may be stored on computer hard drives, the cloud, USB drives, company servers, mobile devices, or more. As technologies evolve and businesses go through a digital transformation, new formats of ESI continue to emerge and it is crucial for companies to be aware of all of the different communication methods being used by their employees. In addition, when companies allow employees to use their personal devices for business purposes, those devices also become repositories for ESI that could be required in a lawsuit.
How Companies Can be Prepared
Having a system in place to store and manage ESI is critical for companies, both to ensure preparedness in the case of litigation and the need to supply eDiscovery information, but also to stay in compliance with regulatory laws. It is also important to provide regular training sessions for employees to make sure they are aware of policies and procedures in place that they need to be following.
A system like LeapXpert’s communication platform ensures that all electronic communications are appropriately captured and archived and can easily be searched and retrieved when necessary.