Symantec: Privacy drives e-discovery in Hong Kong

Businesses in Hong Kong and Asia Pacific should take a closer look at e-discovery though they aren't under the same litigation pressure as their US counterparts, said Allison Walton, e-discovery counsel at Symantec recently.

Walton -- based in the US -- said compliance and privacy requirements are the key driver of corporate e-discovery preparedness in Hong Kong and countries in the region. E-discovery is understood as discovery in civil litigation that deals with the exchange of information in electronic format.

"Most documents exist electronically today," she said. "Even when you aren't under litigation pressure, e-discovery preparedness allows you to be more ready to meet requirements in areas of BI, storage, HR, in addition to compliance and privacy."

E-discovery ready firms can also conduct more effective internal investigations. "For instance, if you suspect a worker of doing something illegal or inappropriate, you can launch an internal investigation without him/her knowing when you are e-discovery ready."

One major e-discovery related challenge facing corporations today is effective information governance. "The different units -- IT, legal, compliance, security, records managements -- must work together [to ensure effective information governance], said Walton. "However, these units are silos in many companies."

IT shops have a key role to play in e-discovery and information governance, but many of them aren't connected enough, she said. "IT must have representatives in a governance committee and learn how to bridge the gap between themselves and legal units," Walton advised.

While information governance is a top down initiative in most cases, businesses must understand there's no single formula for success, according to her. "Organizations, cultures, and jurisdictions differ," she said. "Businesses must understand this and decide what units should take the lead [in e-discovery and information governance initiatives and planning]."

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