Digital evidence

Amongst the myriad definitions proposed for digital evidence the world over, the most apt seem to have been forged by the International Organization on Computer Evidence (IOCE), which views electronic evidence as “information generated, stored or transmitted using electronic devices that may be relied upon in court” and the Scientific Working Group on Digital Evidence (SWGDE) for which digital evidence is “information of probative value stored or transmitted in digital form”.
These two definitions date back, respectively to 1999 and 2000. In the meantime, the world of technology is changed. The main source of the digital evidence, is bound to shift from personal computers, per se, to other devices (smartphones, mp3 readers, playstations, sat-nav terminals), as well as remote forms of data storage (such as “cloud computing”).
More recently, Stephen Mason has attempted to classify digital evidence into three distinct categories:

  • User-generated digital evidence: any and all digital data that are the result of human action or intervention.
  • Computer-generated digital evidence: any and all output of software programs, generated in accordance with specific algorithms and without human intervention.
  • Digital evidence generated by both computers and users: any and all data resulting from human input and electronic processing.

Finally, a comparative study of the legal systems of 16 European countries, revealed that none of them were endowed with a settled definition of the electronic and/or digital evidence. The study also showed that under all the legal systems in question, digital documents, electronic signatures and e-mail were often treated on the same footing at their more conventional counterparts.
Tech and Law Center’s ambitious objective is to assess whether the wide definitions of digital evidence provided at the beginning of this century are still valid in light of the degree of complexity reached by the technological revolution over the last few years. To achieve this result, TLC will focus its research primarily on gathering scientific material (papers, studies and research), case law decisions and recently approved legislation. In addition to this activity it will organize workshops with top experts from the sector.