A Few Considerations When Preserving Slack Data for Ediscovery

| October 4 2022

Court rulings in the past few years have codified what people working in ediscovery have known all along: Slack (and other collaboration app data) is discoverable during litigation and should be preserved the same as email as stipulated in Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP).

With that in mind, here are a few things to consider when preserving Slack data for ediscovery.

Cost

In ediscovery, data volume translates to costs. The more data you have entering the top of your ediscovery funnel, the more you’ll pay to process, review, analyze, and ultimately produce that data. Not only does more data translate to higher processing and review costs, but it also results in higher routine expenditures for data storage and transfer.

When you over-collect data to preserve it, you pay for it. First, you pay to transfer that data to an external repository. Then you pay every month to store it there safely. And that’s before you even use it. You’ll still need to pay for each gigabyte of data that you eventually process, review, analyze, and produce. It can add up fast.

Be careful that you don’t negate the cost savings of preserving data in place by later exporting or collecting everything you’ve preserved. The goal is to preserve broadly and collect narrowly—which means you need to use ediscovery tools that allow you to do both.

Risk of Data Spoliation

The very point of preservation is to ensure that data is held safely for later use in ediscovery. Inadequately preserved information is vulnerable to spoliation: the loss or damage of data so that it is no longer available to the parties.

Early Case Assessment Tools

When you preserve Slack data in place, it’s still in Slack and (relatively) safe, but it’s not in a format that enables further analysis. As a result, you can’t begin an early case assessment (ECA) to better understand the matter at hand until you export—or collect—the data.

On the other hand, once you collect data, you create the opportunity for advanced searches and data analysis. In-depth ECA might give you the jump on pending litigation, providing valuable insight into whether you should settle or stick to your guns.

Security Risks

When you preserve data directly in the program or app where it was created, as with Slack Legal Hold, you minimize the security risks inherent in transferring copies of data. Any time you preserve data in its native repository, you limit:

  • the number of data transfers from one system or storage location to the next
  • the number of storage locations for valuable data
  • the number of copies of data that exist
On the other hand, if you collect data to preserve it, you may be increasing your security risk. Every collection is a potentially vulnerable transfer, and every copy in every storage location is a target for hackers. That means you’re running a greater risk of suffering a security lapse, which is both expensive and damaging, sometimes terminally so.

Best Practices for Slack Preservation

When it comes to a data preservation strategy, it’s important to know your options in order to make flexible decisions. Here are a few best practices.

Understand how your teams are using Slack. Do your employees primarily discuss business on Slack, or are there numerous personal “chat” channels? How much work happens over direct messages (DMs)? If you want to govern Slack data effectively, you need to know what data lives where.

Create clear policies around Slack use. While Slack conversations often have a casual tone, remind your employees that their Slack messages are still potentially discoverable business communications.

Implement a retention policy. Don’t let Slack just hang onto everything forever. Instead, implement a retention schedule that accounts for the value and risk posed by the different types of information that exist in your Slack application.

Know your preservation options before you need to implement them. If you don’t have Slack Enterprise Grid, you need to plan how you’ll preserve Slack data before litigation arises and the clock is ticking.


 

Want to learn more about ediscovery best practices around Slack?

Download The Guide to Slack Data Preservation!

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