Court Protects Private Info On State Computers

     CINCINNATI (CN) – Tennessee computer experts cannot copy the hard drives of state and privately owned computers to obtain information about a state medical program, the 6th Circuit ruled.

     The ruling alters two district court orders calling experts to inspect the state’s computer system and the computers of 50 key custodians to preserve electronic evidence in a class action involving 500,000 children enrolled in the TennCare medical program. The state is accused of failing to protect electronically stored information about the federally mandated medical services it provides to Medicaid-eligible children.
     During the 10-year dispute, state officials failed to tell employees to archive emails or specify which documents they wanted to save. But skepticism that the state has withheld information is not enough to warrant drastic electronic discovery measures, Judge Rogers explained, declaring the orders a “demonstrable abuse of discretion.”
     The interest in obtaining TennCare information does not outweigh the risk of exposing confidential state or private personal information, especially without evidence that the state has destroyed information, the court ruled.
     The judges urged computer experts to pursue less-intrusive methods for retrieving the information.

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