Magazine article Information Management

ABA: Lawyers Can Search Metadata

Magazine article Information Management

ABA: Lawyers Can Search Metadata

Article excerpt

For records departments already worried about complying with government regulations and potential litigation, here's another thing to lose sleep over: the American Bar Association (ABA) recently decided that lawyers who receive electronic documents can look for and use "hidden" information, or metadata, embedded in them.

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The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility said that the ABA ethics opinion goes against the view of some legal ethics authorities who say it is morally impermissible as a matter of honesty for lawyers to search documents they receive from other lawyers for metadata or to use what they find.

Metadata is ubiquitous in electronic documents and includes such information as the last date and time that a document was saved and by whom, when it was accessed, the name of the owner of the computer that created the document, the date and time it was created, and a record of any changes made to the document or comments written into it.

The ABA advises document creators to avoid metadata by not embedding comments in documents or by "scrubbing" or filtering the metadata out before sending the documents, according to an ABA release. …

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