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The Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) is a topology of the eDisclosure process, presented as a concept made up of several processes or stages. Many professionals in Litigation and Dispute Management will be well aware of the Document Review, Analysis and Production stages in a traditional disclosure exercise, however not as much attention is given to the Information Governance and Identification stages.

Information Governance is the earliest stage in the EDRM model, referring to the proper management of electronic data from data collection to production, when disclosure is required. In addition, the Identification stage is the process of ascertaining the scope of potentially relevant to the scope of the case data, locating different sources of ESI (Electronically Stored Information) that may need to be collected and processed. This scoping exercise is key in the context of ensuring a client’s disclosure obligations are met by the application of a legal hold (to comply with CPR PD31B), carrying out reasonable searches (CPR 31.7), and in cost control.

When identifying the various sources of ESI pertinent to a case, one must think beyond the “traditional” data sources, such as word processors, spreadsheets, Microsoft Office applications (Word and Excel), as well as emails, mobile data (texts, call logs), and multimedia (image, audio and video files), that we are accustomed to. The rise of social media and instant messaging platforms has created a plethora of new & non-traditional data sources that may be relevant.

The increased changes in digital ways of communication coupled with the current COVID-19 pandemic, calls into sharp relief the need to consider data from new sources, including data from platforms such as Whatsapp, Zoom, Slack, WeChat and MS Teams. Many of these applications are being used on a corporate scale, where such platforms are frequently used to chat and hold meetings, resulting in data being created and stored within them.

Let's take Zoom as an example. Between March and April 2020, downloads of Zoom increased by 740%[1], resulting in an increase of daily users from 10 million pre-pandemic, to an astounding 300 million, as of April 2020[2]. According to Zoom’s privacy policy, the data collected during meetings includes participants’ names, physical addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, job titles and employer names[3]. In addition, when calls are recorded, Zoom also saves a text file containing all chat messages from the meeting. Thus, the increased usage and of these applications, as well as the swathes of metadata collected by these platforms, may result in this data being relevant and disclosable, including in Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs).



All may contain data that falls within the scope of a disclosure exercise.

Aside from data sources becoming more diverse, there is also the issue of data volumes growing rapidly. These two factors inevitably cause increases in the risk of missing relevant documents, and the time required to review the data. In fact, between January 2019 and 2020, the volume of data hosted by the Eversheds Sutherland Propel ES/Locate team – the team allocated to eDisclosure services - increased by roughly 163%, from roughly 3.5TB to just under 6TB during this period.

While the types and volumes of data continue to grow, our in-house eDisclosure team will always be ready to provide guidance from the early stages of identification of data sources and volumes as well as advice on the most effective review workflow and strategy.

ES/Locate can process and review non-traditional data sources, such as mobile call logs and messages from Whatsapp and SMS. The platform is evolving to keep pace with new data sources, for example new support for chat data, to enable chat messages being reviewable in the platform in a format very similar to how these messages would appear in their native applications. This also portrays a much more accurate picture of a conversation history that can easily jump from email exchanges to a Whatsapp conversation and then revert to email.

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[1] Mike Isaack and Sheera Frenkel, 'Zoom’s Biggest Rivals Are Coming for It' (The New York Times, 24 April 2020) <>

[2] Ibid.

[3] Richie Koch, 'Using Zoom? Here are the privacy issues you need to be aware of' (Security Boulevard, 20 March 2020) <>