The CIA's destruction of interrogation tapes recently is yet another illustration of what not to do with digital evidence. True, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure don't apply to the CIA. Nonetheless, we can learn from the agency's mistakes.
First, as Forensic and Compliance Systems CEO Ralph Harvey told InfoWorld, "Ultimately, the issue is you don't know how important that e-mail is to someone else." The lesson: Be careful what you delete and who has access to delete it. A good rule of thumb, perhaps the most important one, is to preserve any evidence that is part of an "ongoing investigation," and "always tell the truth," says Patrick Egan from the Fox Rothschild law firm.
Secondly, the CIA case is a reminder that digital evidence comes in many forms, like video, voicemail, Web conferences, etc. Xerox Litigation Services VP Chris O'Brien offers this advice: "Anything that's electronically preserved could theoretically be subject to discovery."