Mobile Device Messaging and E-Discovery, Part 1 of 4: An Influx of Data

Mobile Device Messaging and E-Discovery: An Influx of Data
Part 1 of 4 

Do you remember when there were two-party phone lines or when a melodious voiced operator would ring your phone and say, “Please hold, there is a long-distance call for you”?

Well, those halcyon days are over and the entire world of communications as you well know, if you are over 45, is on a kind-of “rocket to the stars” where your voice, instant message, Twitter or e-mail seem to careen wickedly fast, through the star-studded universe and arrive at an intended destination. All of this occurs without the use of a cordless or mobile phone, or even a computer. Welcome to the world of mobile messaging. The operator has been fired, and the satellite has been hired.

The constantly evolving universe of mobile messaging will have a significant impact on litigation in the area of mobile electronic discovery. We have indeed reached a “new frontier.” Software, such as the feature-rich Windows Mobile software and Microsoft Office mobile applications, helps deliver a desktop-like experience to small devices.
Powerful processors, cheap availability of large amounts of random access memory and memory storage to prevent data loss, make the mobile device a robust business tool.

While laws concerning electronic discovery are front and center, its application to mobile communications, which merges oral and data communications, presents a new frontier that raises a litany of unique issues regarding privacy, data retention and production.
Mobile messaging refers to your ability to send and receive short, text-based messages via mobile phones using the short message services function offered by mobile network providers. As mobile network systems and mobile handsets advance, it will be possible to send more complex data.

The convenience and simplicity of short message services, combines with the evolution of pricing models (especially unlimited bundles) have contributed to a significant growth of this market in the U.S. and Europe over the past few years. According to a Yankee Group 2008 study, U.S. consumer base for this type of messaging grew at an annual compound rate of 28 percent between 2003 and 2008.

According to a recent Nielsen study of cell-phone usage, the average number of monthly texts for a 13- to 17-year-old is 1,742.The main application of short message services has been the exchange of text messages between mobile users. Many content providers have entered this market offering a variety of services, including: personalization of mobile phones (e.g., tones, logo, screen saver), directory services, dictionary, premium alerts regarding news, sports, finance, entertainment, chat rooms, dating services, and social network messaging (e.g., Facebook or MySpace activity updates).

Innovative network developers and operators, driving profits, have developed specific platforms for short message services content provision, including billing of the end user on behalf of the content provider. Innovation will continue to increase the scope and complexity of mobile messaging and thus mobile messaging e-discovery.

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** This is the part in a four-part series which comprise an abridged version of the article “Upwardly Mobile,” published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal.