TMT companies receive over 27,000 regulatory data requests a year from US and UK Governments alone
5 September 2017
- Regulatory data requests have nearly doubled in past three years
- Deloitte analysed the latest disclosed data from 2013-2016
The average number of regulatory data requests to well-known technology, media and telecommunications (“TMT”) companies has nearly doubled from 13,653 in 2013 to 27,103 last year. Deloitte measured the total number of requests from the US and UK governments to 26 TMT companies and took an average.
The vast majority of these requests involve organisations and people whose data these TMT companies hold, rather than data about the companies’ own operations. The requests typically span large regulatory investigations to smaller criminal cases. There was a peak in 2015, when the average number of requests reached 28,409.
Peter Robinson, who leads Deloitte’s Electronic Discovery function, comments:
“These businesses aim to respond to data requests positively and support government work, but the sheer volume can challenge even businesses of size and capability. If they are not able to respond efficiently to the regulators they may face a financial penalty, with long delays potentially leading to larger fines.
“These requests can cover a mixture of criminal activities from white collar crime such as money-laundering, to counter-terrorism investigations, and more common crimes such as robbery. The request could be as complex as asking for all the audio, email, social media and instant messenger information on a major investigation through to a simple spreadsheet. Getting organised requires knowing precisely what data is held and where, attempting to respond to these requests in an ad hoc manner is how firms come unstuck.”
For those companies that released their response rates, the average remained steady at 79.8% in 2013 to 78% in 2016.
Peter Robinson continues: “The response rate to these requests remains relatively high. However, in some cases efficient companies will weed out requests that could be considered spurious and decline to respond. Though the nature of the data requests differs between industries, other regulated sectors such as financial services are reporting a similar trend, according to conversations we have had in the market.”
A separate survey by Deloitte US of over 250 discovery, IT, in-house counsel and law firm professionals confirmed that over a third of them (36%) would need an extension on mandated timelines if their organisation had to manage global litigation, internal investigations or regulatory matters. The respondents also identified ‘dealing with a variety of data types’ as the greatest threat to their organisation’s data preservation efforts for global litigation, regulatory or investigations.
Peter Robinson concludes: “Factors such as regulators becoming more aggressive and the sheer volume of potential evidence held in electronic form will only increase their frequency. Every organisation must ensure that it adopts and implements a robust data management strategy as a matter of priority.”
Note to editors
- The 26 companies that Deloitte sampled included: Adobe, AOL, AT&T, Cloudflare, Comcast, CREDO mobile, Evernote, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Lookout, Pinterest, Reddit, Snap, Sonic.net, Tumblr, Twilio, Twitter, Verizon, Wickr, Wikimedia, WordPress and Yahoo.
- The sample only looked at requests made by the UK and US governments. Data requested by other world governments have not been included.
- 15 companies in our sample disclosed their response rates, averaging about 79.8% for 2013 to 78% in 2016.
- The survey of over 250 discovery, IT, in-house counsel and law firm professionals was conducted by Deloitte US on March 29 2017.
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