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Social media, vendor management complicate legal discovery

Participants in the latest #GRCchat discuss how to overcome the legal discovery challenges presented by vendor management and social media data.

As the big data age takes hold, many companies have been forced to completely revamp governance processes to accommodate the influx of structured and unstructured information. E-discovery has also become increasingly complex as organizations sift through seemingly endless volumes of data to find pertinent legal information. Throw social media data and vendor management issues into the mix, and legal discovery is complicated even further.

In the latest SearchCompliance #GRCchat, we asked participants how e-discovery tools and strategies have adapted to big data, and what to include in vendor management processes to ensure information stored by third parties remains discoverable. Participants said new and emerging data management technologies such as predictive coding are necessary as companies try to streamline legal discovery in the face of big data storage.

Ensuring that e-discovery processes do not fall by the wayside is a key aspect of vendor management strategy, said #GRCchat participants. When choosing a third-party provider, businesses must make sure the service-level agreement (SLA) clearly outlines legal discovery mandates -- and then conduct periodic reviews to confirm that the provider is following through.

Regular audits of vendor performance are one way to make sure third-party providers are meeting the organization's data management and legal discovery needs. The frequency of these audits, however, will likely depend on the level of risk associated with the data being handled by vendors, said #GRCchat participants.

#GRCchat-ters also weighed in on social media's impact on legal discovery, noting that social data presents unique challenges. Social media content is typically updated frequently by a range of users, creating e-discovery headaches if the data is called upon as evidence during a legal case. 

To offset these challenges, companies should develop a policy that clearly classifies what "social media data" is for the organization, said #GRCchat participants. Assigning unique identifiers to social media content producers can also help locate the data if it is needed for a legal case.

How do you think social media and vendor management complicate e-discovery, and how can companies overcome these obstacles? Join the discussion by adding your opinion here, or by using the #GRCchat hashtag on Twitter.

For more coverage of this month's #GRCchat, follow @ITCompliance on Twitter and read our recaps on how big data is influencing e-discovery and information governance.

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How do you ensure your data management vendors have tools to meet your e-discovery requirements?