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CIA tape destruction offers cautionary tale for CIOs

December 17, 2007

CIA tape destruction offers cautionary tale for CIOs

Computerworld, December 10, 2007

News of the Central Intelligence Agency’s alleged destruction of tapes from what some believe to be harsh interrogations of two terrorist suspects, has not only garnered front page headlines but it has also caught the attention of many CIOs. Although e-discovery rules don’t apply to the CIA, this case of evidence tampering is a good lesson for private companies on how NOT to handle electronic evidence, and as such it also reiterates the importance of preserving electronic records.

Companies can face million dollar lawsuits for failing to comply with the e-discovery amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Take a look at Morgan Stanley for example, who paid $15 million for neglecting to present e-mails tied to several legal investigations.


    “One of the most tricky issues with e-discovery is the security of the evidence a company is supposed to preserve, [Ralph] Harvey (CEO of Forensic & Compliance Systems Ltd., an e-mail archiving vendor based in Dublin) added. Companies need to be able to find the electronic records, and in some cases, they may need to be able to prove that they didn’t receive a certain e-mail message, he said. In nearly every case, they will need to assure the court that their records are accurate.” 
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