Jim Calloway has a terrific round up post on the ethics of lawyers accessing meta data. Jim starts by explaining what meta data is (it’s basically data about data, embedded in your documents) and how to access it. He then cites the various views on meta data, on the one hand, the Florida Bar’s initial opinion that mining meta is unethical and comments from the blogosphere that take an opposing view (in fact, apparently Jim’s home state isn’t adverse to using meta data, Jim point out that “[mining meta data] is unethical in Florida and we’re teaching it in Oklahoma [at a course on e-discovery].
From what I can tell, lawyers, at least in my neck of the woods, have caught on to this problem. I do check meta data in documents (I can admit that since I don’t practice in Florida) – and I’ve noticed that documents that I’ve received in the past few months have been cleansed. Based on this, it seems that Jim’s sensible approach of “focus[ing] on not sending out
metadata rather than enacting new ethical rules” is already working.