To require a producing party to take a forensic image of a data source can be a high burden for a requesting party. When considering how to preserve and collect data, logical collections will be deemed reasonable in the vast majority of scenarios, and a forensic image may only be required in a limited number of situations.
In this case, the defendant moved to compel the plaintiff to produce his cell phone for forensic imaging due to an alleged modification of specific video files’ metadata.
The defendant’s claim that the video’s metadata was modified was based on its analysis using a free online tool, which reported that “Metadata could have been changed or deleted in the past.”
The defendant did discuss this issue with a forensic consultant, but only used the consultant’s statements to support the notion that the plaintiff’s phone must be examined for a proper metadata evaluation.
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Beyond noting the intrusive nature of forensic examination of computers and cellphones, Magistrate Judge Balsara’s opinion underlines the necessity that parties seeking such extraordinary discovery establish a basis beyond mere speculation. Here the request was unsupported by any qualified expert opinion or other evidentiary showing.