electronically stored information [English]

Syndetic Relationships

InterPARES Definition

n. ~ Data in any format, such as documents, images, or audio, kept and accessed using an automated system, including both the substance of document and any relevant associated metadata and system data.

General Notes

'Electronically stored information' originated in the United States Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to clarify discovery of relevant information stored primarily in a wide variety of information systems, ranging from large-scale systems, such as the Web or enterprise systems, to small devices for personal use, such as mobile phones and tablets. The discussion includes various formats as examples, rather than a limited, exclusionary list.

Other Definitions

  • Fed. R. Civ. P. (†438 34(a)(1)(A-B)): (1) to produce and permit the requesting party or its representative to inspect, copy, test, or sample the following items in the responding party's possession, custody, or control: (A) any designated documents or electronically stored information–including writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, sound recordings, images, and other data or data compilations–stored in any medium from which information can be obtained either directly or, if necessary, after translation by the responding party into a reasonably usable form; or (B) any designated tangible things.
  • Wikipedia (†387 s.v. electronically stored information): Information created, manipulated, communicated, stored, and best utilized in digital form, requiring the use of computer hardware and software.[Paul and Nearon, 2006]


  • Duizend 2006 (†776 p. v): Most documents today are in digital form. “Electronic (or digital) documents” refers to any information created, stored, or best utilized with computer technology of any sort, including business applications, such as word processing, databases, and spreadsheets; Internet applications, such as e-mail and the World Wide Web; devices attached to or peripheral to computers, such as printers, fax machines, pagers; web-enabled portable devices and cell phones; and media used to store computer data, such as disks, tapes, removable drives, CDs, and the like. There are significant differences, however, between conventional document (†1962)
  • Duizend 2006 (†776 p. 1): Electronically-stored information is any information created, stored, or best utilized with computer technology of any type. It includes but is not limited to data; word-processing documents; spreadsheets; presentation documents; graphics; animations; images; e-mail and instant messages (including attachments); audio, video, and audiovisual recordings; voicemail stored on databases; networks; computers and computer systems; servers; archives; back-up or disaster recovery systems; discs, CD’s, diskettes, drives, tapes, cartridges and other storage media; printers; the Internet; personal digital assistants; handheld wireless devices; cellular telephones; pagers; fax machines; and voicemail systems. . . . ¶ The definition of electronically-stored information is based on newly revised section 29 of the American Bar Association Standards Relating to Civil Discovery (August 2004). It is intended to include both on-screen information and system data and metadata that may not be readily viewable. The list included in the Guideline should be considered as illustrative rather than limiting, given the rapid changes in formats, media, devices, and systems. (†1963)
  • ITrust EU. Research Project 5, Proposal. (†396 3): Because of the ubiquitous ICT [Information and communications technology] registration bodies must pay more attention to the semi or unstructured information and records, broadly referred to as electronically stored information (ESI), which include e-mail, instant messages, spreadsheets, images etc. Therefore is the study of good practice a special challenge and a prerequisite for standardization of archiving ESI in public e-registers and regulatory requirements. (†434)
  • Nelson and Simek [2016] (†775 ): What for years has been referred to as electronic data henceforth has the official moniker of "electronically stored information," or ESI. (†1961)
  • Sedona Conference 2014 (†774 ): As referenced in the United States Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, information that is stored electronically, regardless of the media or whether it is in the original format in which it was created, as opposed to stored in hard copy (i.e., on paper). (†1960)
  • Witte and Portinga 2007 (†439 p. 37-38): For more than a decade, most people and corporations have been communicating by e-mail, saving documents in electronic format, and generally operating in an electronic work environment. The rise of ESI has created several challenges for attorneys and clients involved in litigation. The first challenge is that there is now much more information to review and potentially produce as part of discovery. . . . ¶A second challenge is that ESI may be stored in myriad places. Electronic information can be stored not only on central servers and backup tapes, but also on each individual employee’s hard drive. Additionally, a client’s electronic information can be stored on individual laptops, BlackBerry devices, “smart” phones, or other PDAs (personal digital assistants). . . . ¶A third challenge is that ESI contains “hidden” data, or metadata. Metadata is “data about data,” and it may include, for example, information about who made what changes to a document and when the changes were made. This metadata is not seen when a document is printed, and therefore, producing an electronically stored document in paper form may omit some potentially responsive information. . . . ¶Amended Rule 34(a) adds a new category of discoverable information – electronically stored information – and includes within the definition of discoverable documents and ESI “writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, sound recordings, images, and other data or data compilations stored in any medium from which information can be obtained. . . .” (Emphasis added.) The definition that includes ESI is broader than the prior definition of “document” in Rule 34 and should encompass all electronically stored information. The definition of ESI is intentionally broad–it encompasses data stored in any medium–to cover new technologies that may develop. (†576)