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In Investigations, SEC Aggressively Pursuing Production of 'ESDs'

Bruce Carton | January 17, 2013

Defense lawyers report that in recent months, the SEC is increasingly requesting the production of electronic storage devices (ESDs) in its investigative subpoenas. ESDs include things like laptops, hard drives, printers and smartphones. The SEC's push for ESDs is meeting resistance from some defense lawyers and consultants, who believe such requests are overbroad, and amount to a request "for a whole filing cabinet, rather than specific types of documents, which is what [the SEC] usually does," Reuters reports.

The SEC's new appetite for receiving potentially massive amounts of unsorted information is the result of its greatly improved capabilities in dealing with electronic data. In June 2011, the SEC opened a new, state-of-the-art forensics lab, a resource that now allows the agency to efficiently review terabytes of data. Among the benefits of the lab is the fact that the SEC can now respond to defendants who object to a request for large amounts of electronic data on the basis that it costs too much by simply stating that the SEC will handle the search through it own lab.

Scott Friestad, Associate Director of the SEC's Enforcement Division, told Reuters that the forensic lab's capabilities are particularly important when the SEC believes people are trying to delete information stored on ESDs, such as emails or other evidence connecting them to a fraud.