Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) allows parties broad discovery of “any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case … . “ However, when discovery includes protected personal information, courts may find themselves weighing the allowable scope of discovery against the personal privacy interests of individuals.
Late last year, we wrote about a case from the Northern District of California where the magistrate judge, balancing privacy and discovery, rejected a request to produce personal devices in their entirety. Just recently, however, a district judge from the same district conducted a similar analysis, but allowed the forensic imaging of personal devices after finding that a compelling need for discovery outweighed privacy interests. This recent case demonstrates the evolving nature of the balancing process between these competing interests and can serve as a helpful guide to judges who will have to navigate the issue in the future, especially as data privacy laws expand around the world and within the United States.
‘In re: Apple’
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