Here’s a Different Way to Take Up the “Slack”: eDiscovery Resources

I started the week covering Craig Ball’s terrific blog post about slack space.  But, thanks to yesterday’s webcast from HaystackID, I learned about a completely different resource for a completely different Slack – the messaging app for collaboration that has become so popular.

Yesterday’s webcast, The Only Thing Constant is Change: An eDiscovery Technology and Tools Update, covered a lot of topics, including the challenges that judges have in enacting legislation to keep up with technology changes.  Ashish Prasad, the VP and GC for HaystackID, noted that technology has emerged so fast that government oversight has not been able to keep up and that enactment of legislation is quickly obsolete, due to the rapid changes in these technologies.

Nonetheless, there are several technology updates to be aware of, as Todd Haley, Executive VP and GM for eDiscovery Operations for HaystackID reviewed, including the latest in forensic analysis tools, audio and video transcription, language translation (including the latest machine translation technologies, such as Statistical Machine Translation and Neural Machine Translation) and emerging data types.  Vazantha Meyers, Esq., VP of Managed Review for HaystackID covered concepts related to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Technology Assisted Review (TAR).  You can check out the recording of the webinar via the link above.

One of the more notable areas of discussion was with regard to emerging data types, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices and collaboration tools.  One of the most popular collaboration tools today is Slack.  One thing I didn’t realize and learned during the webcast is that Slack has a pretty extensive Discovery API.  The Discovery API lets Org Owners on Slack’s Enterprise Grid plan use approved third-party apps to export or act on messages and files from Slack.  There are two types of third-party partner apps, depending on your needs:

  • eDiscovery: eDiscovery apps pull messages and files from Slack, and store the information in third-party data warehouses. From the data warehouses, messages and files can be searched, archived, or retrieved.
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP): DLP apps ensure confidential information (like credit card and social security numbers) isn’t shared outside of Slack by scanning for content within messages and files that break predefined policies.

Data exported via the Discovery API comes in JSON format. If a different format is required, the Discovery API can be connected to a third-party eDiscovery or DLP app.

There are currently thirteen eDiscovery partners and eleven DLP partners.  I’m sure, given Slack’s popularity, there will soon be a lot more.

So, what do you think?  Were you aware that Slack had a Discovery API?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

4 comments

  1. Makes sense that they would, although I will admit to not being aware of it. I wonder if the mobile messaging apps have a Discovery API?

  2. Hi Doug. I had the same thought when I saw your post about Craig’s description of slack space on a computer’s hard drive. Slack (the application that sought to be the “searchable log of all conversation and knowledge”) is truly a treasure trove of discoverable information that every organization needs to be addressing when it comes to their preservation and discovery obligations. Modern collaboration applications create all kinds of challenges due to their incredible data volumes, the dynamic nature of the content, and the complexity of data types as these platforms become the integration hub for knowledge sharing. With work-from-home and distance working initiatives, organizations are well-advised to update their governance policies and ediscovery playbooks. Hanzo has a lot of great resources if you’re interested in learning more.

  3. I was aware of the Discovery API only because I read about it on Slack’s own website earlier this year as I was trying to get myself up to speed on a Slack collection. However, I haven’t seen it in action. Does the JSON format keep the conversations together in a readable format that discovery teams within law firms can make sense of? How are links and attachments within Slack messages handled?

    • JSON is a convenient format for transferring lots of information, keeping the metadata and content intact. But it is woefully inadequate when it comes to readability for discovery teams, and must be translated into more logical display of the information. Tools like Hanzo Hold convert the data into a Slack-like view of the conversations, tie edits and deletions back to their original message, link file attachments and references with their Slack messages, and the like. This need to translate JSON into a usable format is a critical step in enabling the necessary access for attorney review and ultimately production to requesting parties. Data extraction is just the first step.

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