Those of you who have the honor to participate in developing retention and destruction policies have an idea of where this entry is heading. In December of 2006, changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure helped to further cultivate a market that was thriving...legal. The intent behind the creation of FRCP certainly was not to develop a windfall for the legal industry. Closer examination of eDiscovery requirements and the amount of revenue the eDiscovery market has grown to become makes this writer view eDiscovery as the Y2K of the legal industry. For those who don't quite understand the comparison, Y2K was a huge revenue generating venue for computer consulting companies who leveraged their resources to patch systems that would almost certainly "cause extreme problems" when the computer clock could not recognize the change from 1900 to 2000. This required lots of software patches which required lots of resources. Residing on each of those older resources as well as the newer resources that have emerged since 2000 is ESI or Electronically Stored Information. ESI resides on your PDA, your home computer, your cell phone, blackberry, voicemail system, VOIP system, network scanner, SAN, NAS, external hard drive laptop, RAM, ROM, USB storage key, SIM Card, ipod, and anything else that can hold electronic data. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure revisions in December 2006 formally recognized this data as evidence that must be properly identified, collected and preserved in response to a litigation.
As a result of FRCP, a major push around automated records management has soared to the top of corporate requirements. A major aspect of records management is automated destruction of records. Destroying a record when there is not any litigation matter or additional retention requirement pertaining to the record is considered to be a prudent risk mitigation strategy.
From this writer's perspective, the downside is the loss of history. Historical artifacts are often how civilizations are evaluated. Hundreds of years from now, will historians look back at this time frame and compare it to the Dark Ages when books and records of higher learning were destroyed under the premise of being too risky for religious authorities. How is the decision to destroy records going to impact future archaeologists, anthropologists and paleontologists? Only time will tell.