Big Data, Electronic Evidence and Criminal Defence

RAV-Seminar “Digitale Beweismittel: Von Handydaten bis Umgebungsintelligenz – Strafverteidigung im Zeichen von Big Data”, 11. Nov. 2017, Berlin

Big Data electronic evidence predominates more and more the evidentiary procedure in serious and organised crime cases in European criminal courts. Hence, law enforcement and courtroom participants are often still in ‘analogous’ mode and just begin to understanding the nature of digital evidence, the technologies to process digital data and eventually its revolutionising impact on their role in criminal procedures. It appears that criminal defence lawyers are facing a particular challenge in handling Big Data electronic evidence (eEvidence) since they are often not sufficiently prepared and equipped to process digital evidentiary data in contrast to prosecutors with the technological power of law enforcement agencies at their disposal.

Useful Software Tools for Criminal Defence Lawyers:

Not being experienced in state-of-the-art crime analysis, the step from the lawyers’ ‘analogous’ working style to digital information processing, inevitably tied to the use of hard- and software, appears to be too big, mainly because the software- and analytical skills needed seem to be too challenging to be acquired on top of the judicial skill-set. Moreover, forensic analytical software tools appear to be too costly for small and medium law offices. However, a closer look shows there is a good chance to close this “digital gap” and to gain the necessary knowledge and understanding if criminal defence lawyers are ready and accept to develop a new understanding of evidentiary information processing in the digital age on the one hand and develop the needed skills in using the required, yet (mostly) easy-to-learn software tools on the other.

As crime analysts’ experience and developments in Computer-Assited Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS) show, an affordable set of software makes it possible even for defence lawyers to handle Big Data digital evidence independently.

One of the most crucial issues in particular small and medium law offices face in handling big data is to make the large amount of data searchable which is provided to them as electronic evidence. In big criminal cases e.g. hundreds of Gigabyte of digital data are extracted from smartphones, computers, telecommunications and ip.surveilance and handed over to criminal defence lawyers in a diversity of formats, from text to email to image. How to answer case related analytic questions accross this large set of electronic data not having the capacity and resources of digital forensic laboratories?

One close to perfect answer is offered by dtSearch which allows not only to integrate terrabytes of different types of data into one holistic database and to make these data quickly searchable in an easy way. Read more…

 

MicroStrategy Desktop is a powerful platform for forensic analysis that allows to explore large data sets e.g. from Smartphone data, telecommunication- or IP-surveillance and to build visualisations such as networks. Read more…

 

Police around the world investigates big data digital evidence using NUIX. Proof Finder is a basic NUIX software tool released as a philanthropic project for 100 USD per year, which allows to learn main functions of NUIX with databases up to 15 GB. Read more…

 

While Provalis software is not build for Terabytes of data, it is capable of processing data sets derived from large amounts of text/data files or very different sources such as social media (FB, Twitter, RSS Feeds), emails (Outlook, Hotmail, Gmail) and many other sources. Read more…