Google has announced a major refresh to the Gmail platform, with several new features that will add new challenges to e-discovery practice. Business clients utilizing the G Suite for their operations will be among the first groups to receive these new features, and personal Gmail accounts set to receive them sometime thereafter. As these features are rolled out over the coming weeks, attorneys and e-discovery vendors will need to be aware of these issues and develop methods for dealing with them. Among the new tools, there are several that will factor heavily into ESI preservation and collection.
“This Message Will Self Destruct”
Gmail will soon support email messages that can be set to self-destruct on a user selected date, introducing a new set of concerns for litigation holds. It remains to be seen whether Google will integrate litigation hold tools for its business solutions which will allow administrators to shut this feature off when needed. In the interim, practitioners may need to address the use of these sorts of messages in the litigation hold letter.
Two-factor Authentication and Information Right Management (“IRM”)
Another set of security features that may be of concern will be two-factor authentication and IRM tagging. Two-factor authentication requires the recipient to verify their identity via a second channel, often a text message, before gaining access to the subject email. IRM tagging promises to allow users to prevent an email from being copied, forwarded, or printed. While these features are likely to improve information security during day to day operations, they may also create problems or additional workflow steps during the collection process.
Questions Going Forward
With the new features still in the process of being released into the wild, there are a number of outstanding questions on what they may ultimately mean for the e-discovery process:
- Will Google or a third party developer offer litigation tools like those found in Office 365 to allow administrators to effectively deal with these new features?
- How will litigation hold letters and practice evolve to address individual message level auto-deletion?
- Will the use of text message verification for email content open the door to more requests for production for text message ESI?
- How will processing and review software handle protected email messages requiring separate channel authentication or IRM restrictions?
Certainly, as the technical details and real-world usage patterns of these new features emerge, more questions will need to be answered.