The seventh workshop on Discovery of Electronically Stored Information, known as DESI VII, will take place in London on 12 June 2017 as part of the 2017 International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law (ICAIL).
I know about it because of the major role played in it by Jason Baron of Drinker Biddle & Reath, the éminence grise behind so many data retrieval projects.
The purpose of the workshop is to provide a platform for discussion about the use of advanced search technology, text classification, language processing, data organisation, visualisation and related techniques for the purposes of accessing and managing electronically stored information.
It is perhaps not surprising that this year’s focus is on the protection of sensitive data in the context of (among other things):
- eDiscovery and complex litigation
- European Union privacy policies
- Audits and internal investigations
- Public access to government records.
The latter indicates that two types of written contributions are invited – research and operational practice papers and position papers. Encouragingly, the requested papers are to be very short. The deadline for lodging research and operational practice papers is 1 April; the deadline for position papers is 1 May.
It is now some years since I took part in one of these, and the world has moved on considerably since then. Despite the academic context, the subjects to be discussed have practical application in the day-to-day work of lawyers engaged in, for example, cross-border discovery, where the ever-tighter EU restraints on the use of personal data conflict with the very broad demands of US discovery. To pick just one sentence from the Request for Submissions:
How well do algorithmic techniques perform in identifying sensitive data that may need to be blocked from cross-border transfers?
This matters very much to lawyers and their clients who are caught between the demands of US courts and regulators while not breaking EU laws, where the time and costs of sifting material for Personally Identifiable Information (PII) are often too great to be contemplated. How do you arm yourself quickly with enough information about the prevalence of PII in the data, and about the scale of the problem generally, within the very tight deadlines imposed by US courts? There is nothing academic about that question, yet we should be relieved that heavyweight academics are investigating it.
The program looks extremely interesting. Contact details can be found within the documents referred to above.