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Reviewing UTC codes in Instant Message Metadata

When reviewing metadata for instant message chats, emails, and other ESI, it’s common to come across metadata listing the time on which messages were sent and delivered. See this example in a chart filed with a motion that is available on Docket Bird. As we can see in the column entitled, ‘Start Time: Time’ there are references to a date and time followed by the UTC -4 code

. . . further to the right there's another column entitled, 'Timestamp: Time', with a different UTC code, UTC-5.

What's going on here? Two things: The first field, 'Start Time: Time’' shows when a thread of text or instant messages began. The date and time given in the first row is 9/26/2014 11:39:03 AM. The second field, 'Timestamp: Time' has the entry, 11/10/2014 4:32:48 PM. This shows when the current message is exchanged. But why the change from UTC-4 to UTC-5? If you look at a map like this one showing the universal time code zones:

. we can see that the UTC-4 zone covers parts of Nova Scotia, Venezuela, the Amazon and Chile. UTC-5 is the zone for the eastern United States.

So are these messages between a businessman in New York City and an client in Caracas? Not likely. UTC-5 the standard time zone for the eastern United States, but during daylight saving time the east coast shifts to UTC-4. Daylight saving time ended on November 2, 2014.

Sometimes of course messages are exchanged between individuals in different time zones. If you want to update the time of messages sent in New York (during standard time) to recipients in London to the UK's time zone, and you have the metadata in Excel use a formula in this format:


. . . although the hour would need to be increased by one since London is on 'British Summer Time'.

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