In the State of Florida, there were more than 14 million Internet users as of June 2010, out of a population of over 20 million people. In total, more than 78.8 percent of Florida’s population is online, according to Internet World Stats. Both individuals and businesses routinely use the Internet, with many utilizing email and social networking to make online connections.
With the rise in Internet and smartphone use, eDiscovery has become increasingly important. eDiscovery refers to the process of identifying and examining electronic data in preparation for a court proceeding.
eDiscovery occurs in both criminal and civil cases and, in civil cases, is governed by Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Applicable rules include Rule 1.280(b)(1), which states that parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter that is not privileged and that is relevant to the subject matter of the pending action; and Rule 1.280(b)(3), which allows for the discovery of electronic information.
During eDiscovery, it is possible to obtain many different types of electronic data, including emails, a history of visited websites, postings from social networks, calendar files, spreadsheets, databases, text documents, and programs. Electronic data is often easily searchable, and computer forensics can help to recover electronic data even if attempts are made to delete information.
Because many people are less careful about what they say in email communications, email evidence identified during eDiscovery has increasingly played a role in civil and criminal proceedings. A famous example is Enron emails, which played an instrumental role in the investigation into the downfall of the company and which were subsequently released online by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.