News Corp. Just Keeps on Giving

23 Jan

It’s not often that my two worlds collide so dramatically.  I have one foot in the anti-corruption world, and one in the eDiscovery world.  These two worlds often intersect, but rarely in a way that makes news.

Document review is approaching impossible proportions.  I did a post recently about what Scotland Yard’s review of 300 million News Corp emails would play out.  Now News Corp itself is going to feel the pain.

News Corp. has been ordered to review nine computers for emails.  This comes after News Corp. admitted that it had deleted email archives in an attempt to conceal the growing phone-hacking scandal from police.  There’s an old saying I learned from the late, great trial lawyer Dan McCarthy, “they admitted what they couldn’t deny, and denied what they couldn’t admit.”  News Corp. admitted to the investigating judge that they had destroyed the archives in an attempt to avoid the search of additional computers.  No such luck.

The “plan” to destroy emails (the Judge’s words, not mine) was put into place immediately after News Corp. received a preservation request from Sienna Miller’s lawyers.  The company then executed their “previously conceived plan.”   It’s that “previously conceived” part, as reported by Bloomberg, that drew my attention.  Spoliation of evidence is a big deal, no matter what jurisdiction you’re in.  And when spoliation isn’t the result of negligence, but rather intentional action, the sanctions can get harsh.

This is just the case that keeps on giving.  I especially love all the barriers this case crosses.  From eDiscovery, to entertainment (I found the link to the Bloomberg article on the Deadline Hollywood site), the Wall Street Journal (which is published by News Corp….yes, I just had to say that), to FCPA, to Mark Mendelsohn (the FCPA lawyer News Corp. brought in), to politics, from the UK to the US, and I’m sure beyond.  So many different worlds.

I wonder whether News Corp. has in-depth knowledge of what’s in its data, or if they’re finding this stuff out as they go along.  My well-honed cynicism points to the latter.  It tells me that there’s an information governance problem at News Corp.  They have, I’m sure, an absolute ton of information, and don’t know what’s in it.  I’m sure they’re putting governance in place now, but the problem is what’s in all that data from the wild, wild west days before mitigating structures were emplaced?

That, by the way, will be the driving technological need for the next 10 years: information governance.  My company, Recommind, provides companies and law firms with software that helps make data governance possible in today’s information-expansive world.  So life will be getting interesting.

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