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Apple® Products: Sturdy Security, PC Differences Require Special Attention in Discovery

It seems like they have been around much longer, but the first iPod® was released by Apple Inc. in November of 2001. Suddenly many consumers were using a product made by the maker of Mac® computers, loved by the likes of artists, designers and educators-but not the average cubicle jockey or corporate exec. That was the domain of Windows®  PCs. As people came to love their iPod®  digital devices they became more familiar with the Apple way of doing things. At the same time, cross-platform compatibility barriers were coming down, meaning a PC user could buy a Mac and no longer feel like she was trying to plug her TV into a tree. 


Attend any legal conference today and you are as likely to see as many MacBook® computers, iPad®  and iPhone® devices as anything else. Today, Apple reports that iPhone and iPad sales account for nearly three quarters of its revenue. And, it follows that more Apple products are storing potentially discoverable data.


Two Covington & Burling LLP attorneys wrote in a recent article that document collection from Mac computers, iOS mobile devices, third-party applications and the iCloud® presents "unique issues that will need to be addressed when drafting and implementing document collection plans."


Jihad F. Beauchman and Edward H. Rippey offered insight and guidance to other attorneys in an article titled iDiscovery: Collecting Documents from Apple's Mac Computers and iOS Mobile Devices, published in a recent issue of the EDDE Journal, produced by the E-Discovery & Digital Evidence Committee, ABA Section of Science & Technology Law.


"The technical differences make it difficult to adequately implement a thorough document collection plan on Macs using only Windows tools. Using Windows tools to perform collection on Macs can lead to corrupted or unreadable files and inaccurate metadata," Beauchman and Rippey wrote. "For example, when analyzed by a Windows machine, a single Keynote®  file (similar to PowerPoint®) may appear as a folder with multiple subfolders containing numerous corrupted files that do not accurately reflect the content as it existed on the Mac computer."


The attorneys say it is critical to work with Mac specific tools and with vendors with experience collecting ESI on Mac computers as well as Windows PCs. Also important, they say, is make sure "information is collected natively and that properly formatted drives are used to collect the information." Beauchman and Rippey wrote that when an external drive is later formatted for Windows it may not retain important metadata and some files could be corrupted. FireVault encrypted files must be decrypted before imaging a drive, which can take as long as 24 hours. "Improper formatting or corrupted files can signify sloppy collection and could lead to further scrutiny of the document collection efforts," the attorneys warn.


These are just some of the risks, warnings and solutions Beauchman and Rippey offer in the article.


Note: Edward Rippey of Covington & Burling will be one of the presenters at a day of legal education sponsored by LexisNexis on Jan. 30, 2013, as part of LegalTech®  New York 2013. The program will be moderated by e-discovery thought-leader George Socha, Esq., featuring interactive panel discussions with 16 other experts on big data, cloud computing, international privacy, and using e-discovery to obtain better client outcomes. For more information and the full agenda please visit: www.lexisnexis.com/2013-legal-tech.


Key Takeaways

● Work with vendors skilled in collecting data from Mac as well as PC computers.

● Use Mac specific tools when handling Apple equipment.

● Insist that data is provided in its native format.

● Take care when first handling Mac data to preserve precious metadata and protect files.

● Download and read the complete article by Rippey and Beauchman. Click here to download a PDF of the article.

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