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Authentication of Web Content in EDiscovery

Original post by Jim Donahue, Senior Vice President, Hanzo Archives.

Hanzo Archives participated at a CLE session at a major DC law firm yesterday. The session was very well attended and it was clear that web and social media in e-discovery is a growing concern.

One of the areas of focus was authentication of web content. Authentication challenges are nothing new in eDiscovery, but they certainly seem to have escalated in frequency. Web and social media cover a variety of platforms, metadata and file types, and eDiscovery practitioners must take care to choose a method that collects the content and data required for authentication. A time stamp and a hash value are not enough in sophisticated e-discovery matters.

Web content can be complex to authenticate. A website is made up of many parts (html, stylesheets, javascripts etc.) and each of these must be preserved individually and together as obtained from the original source server, alongside their metadata. This is native format archiving. In addition to this, a representation needs to be made that will enable presentation without the original content being present, but it must be shown to be a direct derivation of the authentic preserved content.

Finally, the preservation method should be open, proven, and standards based. Specifically for web archives: ISO 28500:2009 WARC Files. Ensure WARCs are the primary format for preservation of the native files and metadata, not a derivative or bolt on.

So it seems there’s a high cost to web and social media collections that meet authentication requirements, right? Not at all. In fact, you’ll probably spend more money printing to PDF.

When a supplier claims that they are archiving content to be presented in court or another formal situation where authenticity is critical then it is vital to make sure that any representation of the content, which may include a derivative of the original content, is backed by the strong evidence provided by a properly preserved, authentic, native format web archive.

Contact us and see how easy and cost effective standards-based web and social media collections can be.

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