There are a lot of people in the legal-tech community talking about the discoverability of Zoom data these days, particularly as the move to a remote workforce continues in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As far as downloading recorded Zoom calls, it’s a pretty easy process. Really no different than exporting emails. And there haven’t really been any significant rulings (yet) regarding difficulties with Zoom data, so no need to worry right?
Maybe not in the immediate, but with the rise of video usage (not only with Zoom but with police body cam footage, as well as cell phone video) it will probably be sooner than later. The legal industry has a way of not adopting new workflows or technologies until they’re forced to, which can lead to extra costs and significant pressures on the legal team when litigation does arise, so being forward-thinking can pay off.
With this in mind, I spoke with Aaron Swenson, Ipro’s Head of Product Growth and Strategy, to discuss some more forward-leaning thoughts around video conference data and eDiscovery. Here are three considerations that continued coming up in our conversations.
Long Term Storage Costs:
It’s easy to take for granted the seemingly unlimited storage the cloud offers, particularly when using applications like Zoom. But audio files take up a fair amount of space. Video even more. And then when you throw in a transcript and chat data, it doesn’t take long to build up a significant amount of Electronically Stored Information (ESI).
For example, I looked at a recent Zoom recording I had exported to my laptop: It was just under an hour and came in around 100 GB. According to Zoom’s website, they charge $500 / month for 3 TB of storage and then about $10 for every 100 GB after that. So, if I recorded 30 hour-long calls in a month, that would be 500 dollars and an additional 10 dollars for every call after that. Now multiply that across the number of an organization’s employees using Zoom, and it’s not hard to see how it could quickly add up.
Establishing Retention Policies:
Data retention policies aren’t anything new, but the quick adoption of enterprise Zoom usage most likely means that many organizations haven’t considered how they manage and retain the data from video conferencing calls.
Different departments within a company or law firm may have different protocols when it comes to recording meetings: some may only record occasionally or for specific purposes; others may never record meetings; and others may always, regardless of the topic, record meetings. Then you add the issue of this data potentially being saved from the cloud onto individual machines (possibly multiple times for the same recording) and it’s clear why a Zoom-specific data management and retention policy is necessary.
eDiscovery Processing Capabilities:
Data is only as good as the information you can glean from it, particularly when it comes to data used as evidence for internal investigations and litigation. eDiscovery practitioners have known the importance of being able to extract metadata from documents, digital photos, and other ESI for decades now. Zoom recordings are no different. Which is why you want to make sure that your current eDiscovery solution can process those files into fully usable documents, should they need to be reviewed.
As part of an organization’s policies, they should always make sure their Zoom recordings include transcript creation, but it’s also important to have the ability to sync the video recording with the transcript within your eDiscovery workflow. There is so much information lost if attorneys are only able to review the text of a transcript. Having the video to accompany the text is vital for gaining insight from non-verbal cues (or Human Metadata, if you will) such as the speed of delivery, pauses, voice timbre and inflection, facial expressions, body language, and more.
As with any new data source, considering its potential discoverability and how to defensibly preserve, collect, and review that data before litigation arises is always a good best practice.
Aaron Swenson sums this up nicely when he says, “Given the avalanche of recording, a proactive approach to Zoom data is necessary. Think about how you plan to deal with meeting recordings before a matter arises. Get a policy in place, consider storage costs, and a workflow that takes into account the time constraints of listening to hours of audio and video.”
There is no return to normal when it comes to video. Whether people continue to work remotely or go back to a brick and mortar office, video data will continue to grow in its use, which means it won’t be long before we see it become more prevalent in litigation.