This article makes the case for routine, scalable preservation of potentially-relevant iPhone and iPad data by requiring custodians back up their devices using iTunes (a free Apple program that runs on PCs and Macs), then compress the backup for in situ preservation or collection.
Most of you will read this on your cell phone. If not, it’s a virtual certainty that your cell phone is nearby. Few of us separate from our mobile devices for more than minutes a day. On average, cell users spend four hours a day looking at that little screen. On average. If your usage is much less, someone else’s is much more.
It took 30 years for e-mail to displace paper as our primary target in discovery. It’s taken barely 10 for mobile data, especially texts, to unseat e-mail as the Holy Grail of probative electronic evidence. Mobile is where evidence lives now; yet in most cases, mobile data remains “off the table” in discovery. It’s infrequently preserved, searched or produced.
No one can say that mobile data isn’t likely to be relevant, unique and material. Today, the most candid communications aren’t e-mail, they’re text messages. Mobile devices are our principal conduit to online information, eclipsing use of laptops and desktops. Texts and app data reside primarily and exclusively on mobile devices.
No one can say that mobile data isn’t reasonably accessible. We use phones continuously, for everything from games to gossip to geolocation. Texts are durable (the default setting on an iPhone is to keep texts “Forever”). Mobile content easily replicates as data backed up and synched to laptops, desktops and online repositories like iCloud. The mobile preservation burden pales compared to that we take for granted in the preservation of potentially-relevant ESI on servers and personal computers.
Modest Burden. That’s what this article is about. My goal is to demonstrate that the preservation burden is minimal when it comes to preserving the most common and relevant mobile data. I’ll go so far as to say that the burden of preserving mobile device content, even at an enterprise scale, is less than that of preserving a comparable volume of data on laptop or desktop computers. Too, the workflows are as defensible and auditable as any we accept as reasonable in meeting other ESI preservation duties. Continue reading