The first website on the Internet was posted in 1991. While there is not much factual content on the earliest websites, it did not take long for factual assertions—easily retrievable today—to flood the Internet. Now, over one hundred billion emails are sent, and ten million static web pages are added to the Internet every day.
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The earliest innovations in electronic communication are now over twenty years old—meaning that the factual assertions made by way of these electronic media are potentially admissible for their truth at a trial if (and simply because) they were made more than twenty years ago. This is due to Federal Rule of Evidence 803(16), the so-called “ancient documents” exception to the hearsay rule. This Article argues that the ancient document exception needs to be changed because its rationale, while never very convincing in the first place, is simply invalid when applied to terabytes of prevalent and easily retrievable electronically stored information (ESI).