Mandatory e-Filing for Florida is in Effect
On April 1st, 2013 the Florida Court system requires mandatory use of their statewide e-filing portal in order to file any court documents. No longer can a document be filed at the court house or with paper.
Florida eFiling has many benefits. Watch this short e-filing benefits video produced by the Orange County Clerk of Courts.
One of the biggest concerns we have about e-filing is meta data.
What is metadata? Metadata is most commonly defined as “data about data” or “data inside of data.” But unless you are rather technoligically proficient, the definition provided is not terribly helpful to you. Perhaps this definition will be of more help : metadata is any data that is attached to a computer file that describes the file or provides more information about the file. Think of it as extra information that is hidden and concealed in a document. This information is not inputted by the user, but rather, it is automatically created and embedded in every computer file a user works on. So, every time a document is created or amended in Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint, data tracking the author, document changes, editing time, and other document properties can be added to the document. On its website, Microsoft indicates that the following metadata may be stored in documents created in all versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint:
- Track changes: Inserted or deleted text you thought was gone
- Speaker notes
- Hidden cells
- Your name
- Your initials
Your email address
Your company or organizations’s name
The name of your computer
The name of the network server or hard disk on which you saved
Other file properties and summary information
The names of previous document authors
Nonvisible portions of embedded Object Linking and Embedding
Why Should You Care About Metadata?
Here are some high-profile examples where someone sending an electronic document to someone else forgot that hidden metadata exists:
- October 2000: The Wall Street Journal reports that a candidate running for the U.S. Senate began receiving anonymous emails containing messages written in MS Word criticizing and attacking the candidate. A savvy aide looked at the document properties and discovered they were authored by the chief-of-staff of the opposing party
- March 2004: SCO Group , seller of UNIX and Linux, sent out a warning letter to 1,500 of the world’s largest companies threatening legal liability for using Linux if they failed to obtain a license from the Utah-based company. After filing suit against Daimler-Chrysler, metadata in a MS Word version of the suit revealed that the SCO’s attorneys had spent a good deal of time aiming the suit at Bank of America instead.
Many state bar associations have drafted rulings on meta data. Take Alabama for example which states: “Lawyers have a duty under Rule1.6 8 to use reasonable care when transmitting electronic documents to prevent the disclosure of metadata containing client confidences or secrets”
Metadata can be dangerous. You should learn how to prepare and scrub your documents before sending them to opposing counsel.
Here are two easy ways to prepare your documents for sharing:
If you have any more questions about e-filing in Florida. Contact your local court system or visit http://www.flclerks.com/eFiling_authority.html – If you have questions about the finer details of document preparation and whether or not your documents are safe, contact Tech Tripp.