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By Jeremy Applebaum


What is Edge Computing?

Unless you printed this article, you’re reading it on some electronic device. Do you know who owns the data that tracks what you’re reading? Is it stored on your device, through the app, somewhere else on the web? If you’re involved in litigation, can that information be used against you?

For AT&T wireless device users, the answer to that question just became a lot more complicated. In a recent statement, the organization announced they plan to use “edge computing”, a method to process and store data in the cloud that is normally processed in your wireless device.

From a consumer standpoint, this means extended battery life, reduced delays in device response time, and much more powerful computing available to the public. Hooray!

But from a data collection and litigation preparedness perspective, edge computing means that at least some of the data currently created in and stored on your device will be in the cloud.

Why Does Edge Computing Matter?

Who owns this data is not as clear as it used to be, and historical definitions alone are no longer sufficient to determine whether the data needs to be produced.

For example, earlier this year, in Williams v. Angie’s List, No. 1:16-00878-WTL-MJD (S.D. Ind. April 10, 2017), the court determined that even though certain data was not in Angie’s List’s “possession, custody or control,” they still had a “legal right to obtain” it.

“Even while end users […] “ordinarily” do not access such data, the evidence clearly demonstrates that they are able to do so upon asking. In fact, the most compelling fact before the Court is that [Defendant], despite dragging its feet and protesting vociferously, were actually able to retrieve and produce one year’s (sic) of the background data.”

Therefore, they were required to produce the supplemental data.

Angie’s List also tried to make a proportionality argument in an effort to win cost apportionment on the estimated $45,000 in additional costs to obtain their SalesForce data, but that argument did not persuade the court.

How Does Edge Computing Change Discovery?

Now that much of the data currently created and stored on devices may no longer remain there, attorneys and their clients will have to turn to the place where it is created and stored to gather evidence for discovery.

And if the data are not ordinarily accessed by customers or available for end-user export, there will likely be transactional costs to obtain it like the invoices Angie’s List received from SalesForce.

What Does the Future Hold?

So a move to edge computing and data storage in the cloud may mean less on-site device collections and custodian inconvenience during discovery, but it could also mean the hassle of issuing more subpoenas and paying fees to cloud service providers for access to a client’s own data.

Do you know where your data are?


Jeremy Applebaum

Jeremy Applebaum, eDiscovery Consultant

Jeremy Applebaum, a 2004 graduate of Cumberland School of Law, is an eDiscovery Consultant with Precision Discovery. He has successfully navigated cases ranging from personal injury to complex environmental contaminations and large product liability actions. Jeremy recognizes the importance of focused and productive discovery, and enjoys using his experience to guide others through this process.

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