Did you know that some copying machines have hard drives and store digital copies of the copies they have made? Or that the hard drives could even contain 25,000 copies that have been made? Copier + Hard Drive: A Dangerous Combination.
Lawyers are used to discovering e-mail, but now what about using discovery to find copies that a opposing party made over time? Wouldn’t you like to be at your opponent’s office and see the originals of all the copies that were being made?
Well, now, fortunately — or unfortunately — you might be able to.
Modern copy machines and printers have a similar hard drive to those found in PCs and laptops. These machines automatically store any document that has been printed or copied on the hard drive. This means that copy machines and printers may contain sensitive data on the hard drive which must be destroyed. This is often an overlooked security issue which could result in a data breach.
Usually when several copies of a document are needed, the document is scanned just once and the copies are made from the file that has been saved on the hard disk. The data can be accessed by removing the hard drive from the printer or copy machine and connecting it to a PC or an erasure station. There are no existing standards which state how the data on these devices should be permanently removed however the same measures must be practiced as when erasing computer hard drives.
In fact, I was recently speaking with an attorney and she said her husband’s firm had a computer technician come in and erase the drives on their computers.
Addendum: After writing this post, I realized that some fax machines retain digital versions of faxes that have either been sent or received. That’s another source of both ethics problems and discovery opportunities.
I suspect many law firms have typewriters squirreled away somewhere just to fill in forms.
Ross Kodner, computer guru extraordinaire, has an article about how Acrobat Standard, Professional or Professional Extended editions can be used as a typewriter to fill in those forms. He gives very detailed step-by-step instructions about how to save the forms as pdfs and then how to fill them in. http://blog.technolawyer.com/2010/01/smalllaw-acrobat-typewriter.html
He has his own blog, http://rossipsa.com/, and this and some of his other articles are also published in the Small Law blog at Technolawyer.com.
There is no charge to subscribe to either Ross’ blog or the Technolawyer.com mailings. Subscribing to both is highly recommended.
I wrote earlier about using pipl and other sites for finding information about potential jurors and others — including discovering what federal and state political contributions they had made and which parties or candidates received their contributions.
While I was at the latest American Bar Association Techshow, Jim Calloway told about a site that was new to me. It’s 123People.com. It’s a good source of information, and, if you search your own name, you might find yourself mentioned in cases or in articles that you had forgotten about.
And, if you’re trying to find someone — or how old someone is – or their phone number – or perhaps even their prior addresses — try Zabasearch. It has an incredible amount of information — and it’s also free.