A SDNY federal district court held that federal agencies must turn over metadata with Freedom of Information Act request responses. In National Day Laborer Organizing Network v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency was not allowed to merely produce .pdf files and had to also include all document metadata. This is a groundbreaking extension of prior practices and may radically change the manner in which government agencies must store their data. However, this court (and Judge Shira A. Scheindlin) has provided other ground-breaking rulings in e-discovery issues that seem to take hold. To all my clients, friends and family involved in the public sector and/or information technology companies that are public vendors, this trend is worth noting and may be worth following. This ruling does not currently change private discovery responses and would not have any immediate impact on non-governmental entities.
Margaret A. Collins is the founder of Collins Law Office, PLLC in Columbia, South Carolina. Her general practice has included local government representation and information technology transactions.