• United States

Start-up digs for legal evidence

Apr 28, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Start-up RenewData is at the center of a ripe and growing business as the result of government regulations aimed at uncovering corporate malfeasance, the company recovers e-mail messages and files that attorneys and their clients need from the hundreds of tapes that businesses keep offsite.

The company’s service involves restoring e-mails and files cited in subpoenas that are stored on tape that is often difficult to recover, incompatible and nearly impossible to recover. Because it is difficult for companies to recover data on their own and even harder for them to reconstruct “evidence” from the thousands of tapes and disk drives they archive data on, RenewData’s ActiveVault service does it for them.

Using proprietary techniques, RenewData sifts through data, restoring it without duplicating redundant files and searching for pertinent e-mails and files that litigants want. The company then provides the evidence to the customers on whatever method of storage they desire, for them to use in defending against legal actions and documenting how transactions or chains of events took place.

“That’s been a hugely inefficient process for the firms that were compliant with the Securities and Exchange Commission Records Storage Rule and had to retrieve their information that was really inaccessible, unindexable and in incompatible, unretrievable formats,” says Scott Kursman, vice president and associate general counsel for the Securities Industries Association, an organization that represents the interests of investment banks, broker-dealers and mutual fund companies.

RenewData says that its data-recovery service also is used by financial industries that have to comply with SEC or other regulatory guidelines for the archiving of e-mail and other electronic documents.

“Companies were not able to produce the material in the time frame people expected, solely as a result of the format they were being required to keep,” Kursman says. “That’s another pressure point – all these litigation and regulatory pressures. I’ve seen cases where judges have cited the record-keeping parties in the litigation for failure to conduct discovery on a prompt and efficient basis.”

RenewData also is working on a hardware-software package called ActiveVault Enterprise to solve the problem of handing customer data that they can’t do anything with after the litigation is past. The package would consolidate current e-mail and file data with that of data RenewData has recovered. ActiveVault Enterprise will be based on network-attached storage gear and present current archived e-mails to the user with metadata references, by which they can build rules to query the stored content to find e-mails relevant to legal inquiries. It works to retrieve data required by SEC audits or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which affects the accounting practices of publicly owned companies.

ActiveVault Enterprise will continue to deduplicate data and store metadata references for it in an Oracle 9i database. Attorneys for companies then can access the data, extract documents that are pertinent to subpoenas or discovery orders, thus saving money and time in discovery costs. ActiveVault Enterprise will be priced on the number of terabytes stored and is expected to be available this summer.

RenewData’s service competes against services provided by Ontrack Data Recovery911 Forensic Data and the Data Recovery Group.