As a practice and a profession, digital forensics consists essentially of the investigation of criminal activities committed with computers and other digital devices. Digital forensics has evolved rapidly in recent years, in response to the exceptional capacity of computerized information systems to acquire, store and transmit unprecedented quantities of data anywhere, instantaneously.
Regulating Ethical Behavior
Information so readily accessible can be subject to illegal usage in matters pertaining to business, governmental affairs, as well as citizens’ private lives. To this end, digital forensics is based on the recovery, authentication, and evaluation of digital evidence found on all electronic devices. However, it is equally important to provide guidelines that assure forensic specialists engaged in discovery and analysis of questionable digital events o not themselves behave unethically in their pursuit of evidence.
It may never be entirely possible to remove any individual’s personal-bias in where vested interest in the outcome of a case exists. This presents a significant problem when expert-testimony is called for, since fields of expertise are characterized by exceptionally unique skills and procedures, well beyond the lay-person’s understanding. Ethical guidelines are needed to ensure expert witnesses such as digital forenicists do not
- present data in an obscure or mysterious way,
- withhold crucial information, or
- slant its content toward a particular, predetermined outcome that distorts or hides the truth.
Unethical behavior goes beyond deliberately obfuscating pertinent information so that incriminating evidence is either hidden from judgment or made far more condemning than it actually is. Neutrality in both
- execution of the forensic examination/evaluation and
- delivery of the real facts in court or other legal venue
represent the mandatory requisites for ethical forensic behavior. Portraying evidence otherwise is the height of unscrupulous conduct, bringing disrepute to the specific incident under examination and, more pointedly, upon the entire profession as well.
Look for additional information in “Appropriate Ethical Behavior for Practitioners of Digital Forensics – Part 2. If you would like more information about eDiscovery or how TERIS solutions can assist you, please contact us!