Electronic evidence hampers the law - survey - TechCentral

Electronic evidence hampers the law – survey

Lawyers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa say poor availability of electronically stored data has caused them to lose cases.

A survey commissioned by security company Symantec shows all 5 000 lawyers interviewed for the report had either experienced delays in cases, or lost a case, thanks to poorly kept data records.

The survey found 60% of lawyers have a hard time dealing with digital evidence. SA laws require legal and forensic experts to deal with electronic evidence with precision. They are required to ensure that evidence reaches the courts in a specific manner, including keeping originals in tact.

One of the most important aspects of handling evidence in SA is to make sure a “chain of custody” can be tracked, because data can be easily changed. Lawyers have to be able to prove that no information was changed and that a complete copy of the data exists.

Only 69% of lawyers surveyed said they were comfortable with handling electronically stored evidence.

“The challenge of dealing with electronically stored information in legal matters has become a mainstream concern,” says Tyrone Theodoris, systems engineer manager Symantec Africa.

“The results of this survey illustrate that accessing and managing electronic information effectively is a growing challenge for legal personnel. The single factor most likely to make their lives easier was search technology that effectively identifies, preserves and processes electronic information,” he says.

Theodoris says more than half of respondents believe technology is the answer to their problems, rather than changes to legislation or greater standardisation of the formats used to store information.  — Staff reporter, TechCentral

1 Comment

  1. 3 words: DRM

    The technology exists to ensure that sensitive data doesn’t get accidentally exposed or maliciously edited. It’s much easier to lose a physical file than a digital one, too, in the age of persistent secure cloud-based storage.

    Just because these lawyers don’t know how to use computers shouldn’t preclude digital evidence from being any less valid than physical evidence.

    The day people can guess passwords as easily as they can forge signatures, I’ll think otherwise.

    ~ Wogan

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