Controlling Personal Information in a Digital World

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2020 | Civil Litigation

There was a time when if clients didn’t write about their misdeeds or talk to someone who was tape recording them, their conversations and comments rarely harmed their legal cases. Today, comments made foolishly or in a moment of anger often horribly damage legal cases. Historically, checking accounts and credit card statements also provided valuable sources of information for use in litigation. Today, the litigation arena has been transformed. Scanning programs can check thousands of emails for key words or topics in seconds. Text messages can be screen shot, forwarded or otherwise preserved indefinitely. Many people talk about their lives and transmit compromising photos of their activities on social media to people whom today are their confidants, or at a minimum their friends. What status might these same people have in your life next week or next year? On a related matter, know that tracking devices can easily be attached to your vehicle and that your cell phones will “ping” cell towers and create a digital read out of everywhere your cell phone goes. The tracking devices in use today are almost always black in color and 3½ by 2½ by 1¼ inches. They typically have two very powerful magnets that will hold the devices tight to the underside of a bumper even if the car hits a chuck hole. A client gave me a tracker the litigation opponent affixed to the client’s truck. This tracker has been tracking a metal file cabinet in my office for several months. It makes a good conversation piece and learning tool for clients.

Be aware at all times that what you say, write, do, text about, email about, take digital photos of, charge to a credit card or write a check for create, in many instances, a record of your actions and location at a particular point in time. Tracking devices and General Motor programs like OnStar track your vehicle. Cell phones track the location of the cell phone carrier. Always make good decisions that place you in a verifiably favorably light regardless of how angry or frustrated others try to make you with their antics. Good people acting honestly have data verifying many things and rarely lose in contested litigation.