The Clinton Emails or How Not to do Information Governance and eDiscovery

Image by JASElabs
Image by JASElabs

As someone who lives, breathes, and works in the eDiscovery world, this whole thing with Hillary Clinton’s emails is absolutely mind-boggling.

If you haven’t been following at home, in a nutshell, Hillary used her own, private, email server while Secretary of State, as opposed to using her official email account, and is being ordered to turn over email from that server in response to FOIA requests that normally would go through the State Department to release emails that fall under the definition of public records.

From an Information Governance stand point, this is a mess. Here you have official records that live outside the control of the people in charge of managing official records. On top of that, the emails are only being turned over to the people who are in charge of managing official records after being vetted by another party, who is not answerable to anyone.

Then, to top it all off, the email was turned over to the State Department in printed form and will cause a delay of months as the State Department organizes, reviews, and potentially redacts these printed documents. Did I mention that they have to do this, because this is now the only copy of said emails, as the original server was destroyed.

Can we count the eDiscovery problems with this? Seriously, if this was a civil litigation Clinton’s team would be facing serious sanctions for producing documents in a non-searchable form, as opposed to how they were stored, for not preserving the original data, and for having a non-transparent process that is not repeatable.

I’m not a lawyer, but this is no way to handle electronic discovery even if it is a response to a FOIA request and not to a litigation request for production.

If this is how a cabinet level member of the Federal Government handles data and eDiscovery requirements, what hope should we have for the rest of the legal community?


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