As a lawyer, you cannot get through a deposition today without someone hitting you over the head with a fifty pound bag of metadata. It seems that, wherever you look and whatever you do, lawyers and practice management experts are complaining about how you failed to wash or clean or scrub, as if you’re constantly stinking up the joint. But while lawyers and e-discovery vendors have concentrated primarily on electronic document scrubbing, they have overlooked a fundamental source of metadata: the fax machine. Luckily, we have a few key steps you can take to assure that your next fax transmission does not inadvertently disclose fascinating minutiae of your or your client’s life.
Demagnetizationary Processes. Part of the problem of fax transmissions is the unseen magnetized data that may get sent along with the fax. Hidden in the margins of faxed documents are highly sensitive magnetizations, clumps of data that, if successfully demagnetized, can reveal where you ate lunch, how often you floss, and whether you “Like” Beyonce on Facebook. To assure that these embedded magnetizationaries are erased, wave a degausser over the fax immediately after it goes through. That will assure that any left over data is scrambled and considered fallow for at least three weeks.
White Out. If you are planning to send a fax and are worried about effin’ metadata grabbing hold of the transmission and going along for a ride, it’s time to get out the modern office standby of White Out. White Out is inexpensive and only partially effective, but it sure is fun to use. We typically buy a five gallon bucket of White Out from Costco each quarter and use it for all sorts of things, such as encrypting images on the computer screen to touching up the lines on our building office parking spaces. But when it comes to covering up embarrassing metadata on faxes, it’s awesome. Two swipes of the little White Out brush and we’re good to go, and the recipient only sees a long streak of something that obviously got amalgamated in the fax machine. But no metadata.
Hire a Facsimile Metadata Vendor. Go to any legal tech show today and you are bound to run into a fax metadata exhibitor at the urinals. It’s odd how they hang out there. But, if you don’t trust degmagnetizationary devices or have run out of your quarterly supply of White Out, consider an FMV. They are cost effective, come out to your office typically for a free fax machine inspection, and can handle most bulk fax transmissions with ease. How do they do it? I actually do not know. I’ve had so little trouble now with faxed metadata that I have no trouble paying the $69.99 monthly contract cost. It’s that good.
Whatever you do to clean, scrub, despoil, tidy up, or groom your metadata, make sure you include fax machine transmissions in your operating procedures. A single embarrassing faxed metadata snafu can ruin a career, as it did recently with Representative Anthony Weiner. Just a little bit of White Out could have gone a long way.