Digital Forensics & Ethics – Part 2

Conflict of Interest

Under no circumstances should the forensic expert have any kind of emotional investment or monetary reward dependent upon either the outcome of the case, or the impact of their testimony of that outcome. Thus, if fees are involved — where the digital expert is paid for providing a forensic analysis of the matters under investigation — payment must not rely on a pre-determined outcome; such an agreement can tempt even the most ethical expert; digital forensics must rely on evaluation of the actual evidence, always disregarding incentives to predispose findings toward a foregone conclusion. The major qualifications for avoiding conflict of interest are professional neutrality and lack of ANY financial interest in the case.


Professional competence eliminates many of the errors that might lead to erroneous judgments of what the evidence signifies. Forensic competence is a consequence of learning and updating all skills relevant to ascertain the true nature of evidence in cases of alleged criminal activity. This means diligent application of information governance procedures as a component of assuring the ethical management of enterprise-IT. This generates reliable detection of actions where it has been misused for personal gain or other illegal purposes.

All relevant eDiscovery processes must be competently applied to seek, secure, and process digital data for evidentiary purposes in civil or criminal matters. Ethical behavior requires digital forensics’ personnel to accurately present their credentials, without misrepresenting or overstating their qualifications. It is also necessary to behave responsibly throughout the forensic process and ensure confidential information remains private, as required by law.

Equally important, it is unethical to pass judgment on the innocence or guilt of the accused; that is the responsibility of the courts. The essential obligation of the digital forensic specialist is to acquire, analyze and honestly present the evidence.

TERIS offers adaptable support at varying levels according to client needs, from extensive data storage to complex case review and analysis and computer forensics. If you would like more information about how TERIS can assist you, please contact us!

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