Conferences and meetings are commonplace in most successful companies. Advancements in technology and communication and the advent of mobile phones have made video conferencing much easier and more comfortable. Video conferencing is a strong way to communicate with employees on important commitments, decisions and resolutions. Video conferences can be transcribed into useful reference notes with the help of business transcription services.
Video conferencing enables two or more number of people to visually connect and interact with each other. It allows meetings with anyone and at any time without the hassles of travelling or changing location. Only a connected device or a monitor with a webcam are required for video conferencing. This process is engaging and creates a feeling that the all participants are a part of the meeting and in direct contact with each other.
Today, with Covid 19, almost all businesses have stepped into video conferencing and are familiar with how to conduct virtual meetings, including the technology and the security aspects. Popular remote meeting technologies include recording features as default settings, and this is a procedural shift for most businesses. Along with recording features, some video conferencing platforms even have a transcription facility and administrating reporting that monitors call activity and metadata as well as content. It is now time for the legal industry to consider the potential legal implications of this shift to virtual meetings, note an article published by www.law360.com.
Organizations can choose to record and retain everything, but they should do so with full knowledge of the associated risks and benefits. However, adopting sweeping recording and retention of office activities that was not typically done prior to mid-March, without being aware of the risks involved may create challenges for future litigation and investigations. The article list three concerns that can be brought about by recording activities:
- Proliferation of data: The files of the video recordings need to be stored and this can prove expensive as the size of the video files increase. The resources needed to locate and utilize specific files will increase as the storehouse expands.
- Records management and discovery: Virtual meetings are preserved in new ways. The records are also subject to preservation obligations when litigation is anticipated or active. If there is a litigation preparedness plan, it should be updated to account for videoconferencing records, and the administrator for the videoconferencing application(s) must be informed, especially if this person is not the IT point of contact for network-based storage.
- Discovery, part 2: When meeting were not recorded, the associated digital information stored was limited and included agendas, calendar entries, meeting notes, and so on. But now the entire meeting can be store as an electronic file along with verbal asides and random commentary, screen shares, facial expressions, etc. There may also be text files containing a full transcript or a chat string, as well as separate files shared among participants through the videoconferencing platform. Each component is considered discoverable. These file may be produced as a part of litigation discovery.
There are no recommended or required retention periods for video conferencing data. The Law360 article says that the following guidelines to keep video conferencing data litigation-ready:
- To organize and retrieve data, establish policies for naming conventions for meetings, custodian management guidelines, and administrative rules for auto deletion.
- Develop organization-level rules and regulations regarding use and recording of meetings and consider setting up a separate security group for different business units or supervisory levels.
- Control the type of records generated. For example, Zoom saves various versions of a single meeting. Choose the meeting type(s) that your organization needs and disable the other recording formats.
- Regular reports should be circulated within the video conferencing platform to monitor metrics such as user numbers or for other purposes, and decide on how they will be generated, by whom, and what retention policies govern such reports.
Video conferencing recordings are usually stored cloud and can be accessed through the application’s enterprise portal. However, individual meeting organizers and participants may have the ability to save certain records related to a single videoconference to their computers.
With increasing use of video conferencing, there is a rising need for preservation obligation. i.e. records associated with videoconferencing must be assessed for preservation as part of the party’s identification and inventory of potentially relevant ESI. Organizations need not worry about the meeting that have already been recorded. They have to maintain any set procedure, even if they were default recordings. Make sure that auto delete is suspended and manual deletion options should be deactivated.
The article also notes: “Videoconferencing records will need special considerations for production, and for any preproduction review that needs to take place for relevance, privilege or other concerns. The ability to handle audio and video files is necessary and additional tools for searching or analysis will be valuable since common approaches like keyword searching will likely be unavailable at a basic level”.
Organizations should be aware of the various legal use cases presented by video conferencing records. Examples include: audio recording or transcript of a meeting wherein a product defect was discussed much before the defendant claims to have been aware of it; call report showing the entry and exit of all participants on a call – if a party claims to have left at some point, but is found to have called back and heard sensitive information, and private chat transcripts containing suggestive comments in an employment claim of hostile work environment or discrimination.
Video conferencing allows meetings to be held without people having to travel from one location to another. Video conference transcription helps organizations obtain actionable data. A reliable business transcription service provider will ensure that the important details of the meeting are documented. These transcripts will come in useful in the event of any litigation.