Enterprises and governments struggle with archiving: lawyer

Compliance seems to be one driver to use data archiving and e-discovery tools

Some enterprises and governments in Australia are wasting time, resources and money searching for data for compliance, litigation or internal investigations because they don’t have the right archiving and e-discovery tools, according to a US-based lawyer.

Allison Walton, e-discovery attorney at security software firm Symantec, told CIO Australia that a significant number of government agencies in Australia and the United States are struggling to create searchable archives.

“Without an archive, you are reviewing duplicates [of data],” said Walton. “It [data] is hard to find because you are sorting through terabytes and terabytes of information, it’s costing a lot of money and it’s trash,” she said.

According to Walton, compliance seems to be the number one driver to use data archiving and e-discovery tools in Australia rather than potential litigation, which is a bigger driver in the US, arguably the most litigious society in the world.

However, Walton said having a successful archiving strategy is not just about avoiding getting “fined millions of dollars” for non-compliance rather it’s about gaining insight into data that resides on the corporate network.

“If you have a piece of litigation and you do have to go back and get it [data], it will be damn expensive,” she said.

Walton said there was a major need for archiving and e-discovery tools in government, using the recent failure of Victorian government agency CenITex to comply with two freedom of information (FOI) requests as an example.

In August, The Age discovered that it would take CenITex, the state government’s centre for information technology excellence, a whopping 24 years at a cost of almost $1 million, to process the FOI requests for the newspaper.

“Freedom of information is a huge problem where there is no solution in some agencies that don’t even have searchable archives, it’s crazy,” Walton said.

According to Walton, enterprises and governments that are creating increasingly huge amounts of data need these tools for reasons other than potential litigation.

“It’s about to take control of their information, not keeping it forever, deriving value from it and being able to get what you need when you need it; and it doesn’t have to be driven by a lawsuit,” Walton said.

“It can be for compliance, freedom of information and internal investigations, which is a great use case for companies here. It doesn’t matter that [Australia] doesn’t litigate as much as us [the United States] because you still need [tools] for other reasons.”

Walton said that corporate regulations and audits are becoming more stringent and the basic keyword search tools that many organisations have today aren't necessarily going to work over the long term, particularly due to the sheer amount of data these companies are creating.

She added that organisations needed to get more proactive about expiring data.

"No-one wants to pull the trigger on backup tapes but the risk in litigation is if you can’t find it [the right information] and your opposing litigant thinks you have it, you’re going to be put to the test to retrieve it and if you can’t, it’s a problem," Walton said.

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