Digital Evidence Standing Committee FAQ


Digital & Multimedia Evidence

Digital Evidence Standing Committee FAQs

  1. Why is the IAI involved with digital evidence?

    The IAI is addressing a growing need in the forensic and law enforcement community. Virtually every facet of forensic science is incorporating digital media in some form. The proper handling and use of evidence in digital form is vital for the law enforcement community. In order to put it in perspective, the following is quoted from an article in Forensic Science Communications (“Recovering and Examining Computer Forensic Evidence,” by Noblett, Pollitt, and Presley, October 2000, Volume 2, Number 4):

    “Computer forensic science is largely a response to a demand for service from the law enforcement community. As early as 1984, the FBI Laboratory and other law enforcement agencies began developing programs to examine computer evidence.

    “As early as 1991, a group of six international law enforcement agencies met with several U.S. federal law enforcement agencies in Charleston, South Carolina, to discuss computer forensic science and the need for a standardized approach to examinations. In 1993, the FBI hosted an International Law Enforcement Conference on Computer Evidence that was attended by 70 representatives of various U.S. federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and international law enforcement agencies. All agreed that standards for computer forensic science were lacking and needed. This conference again convened in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1995, Australia in 1996, and the Netherlands in 1997, and ultimately resulted in the formation of the International Organization on Computer Evidence. In addition, a Scientific Working Group on Digital Evidence (SWGDE) was formed to address these same issues among federal law enforcement agencies.”

  2. What is Digital Evidence and what disciplines in the IAI are involved with Digital Evidence?

    'Digital Evidence' is defined as follows for the purposes of the IAI Digital Evidence Subcommittee: Digital evidence is forensic information of probative value stored or transmitted in digital form.

    Digital evidence is present throughout the IAI disciplines. Examples include computer hard drives, scanning devices, digital cameras, compact flash cards, compact discs, digital answering machines, and hand-held digital devices. Numerous issues surface as new technology is introduced in the forensic community, including questions about safeguarding the original digital evidence, storage and archiving, and analysis of digital evidence.

    Recently, multimedia evidence has come to the fore within the discipline due to the huge increase in video surveillance systems and the change from analog video and film photography to digital video and digital photography.

    Some of the primary areas in which members have been facing digital evidence issues are the forensic disciplines of:

    • Forensic Photography and Electronic Imaging
    • Crime Scene Investigation
    • Digital Evidence
  3. What is the IAI Digital Evidence Subcommittee, its mission and goals?

    The IAI Digital Evidence Subcommittee was formed in 2002 as a new discipline category in the IAI. The first Digital Evidence Subcommittee meetings and presentations were held in 2003 at the annual IAI Conference in Ottawa, Canada. The current chairman of the Digital Evidence Subcommittee is Jerry Hoover. Members of the committee work in all areas of digital forensics including computer forensics, video and multimedia, digital device forensics (cell phones, pda, etc.).

    MissionTo promote the principles of forensic science for gathering, handling, processing and storage of digital evidence. To be the center of excellence in the IAI community for fostering increased awareness of digital evidence issues in the interests of justice and assistance to the law enforcement community.
    1. Interact in a positive way with other IAI disciplines to encourage more education and appreciation for the protection and handling of digital evidence.
    2. Encourage presentation of case related digital evidence issues at IAI meetings and conferences.
    3. Provide a forum for the law enforcement forensic community to discuss digital evidence related issues.
    4. Cooperate with other related digital evidence groups; for example, SWGDE (Scientific Working Group on Digital Evidence) for the resolution of common issues.
  4. How does the Digital Evidence Subcommittee interact with other related IAI subcommittee disciplines?

    Members routinely continue to participate in their other primary disciplines and interests for which they joined the IAI. This integration is healthy and promotes better understanding and cooperation among IAI members. Some members volunteer to serve on the Digital Evidence Subcommittee to assist in the preparation of training materials and coordination of digital evidence presentations at IAI conferences.

  5. Is the digital evidence discipline recognized and accredited?

    The ASCLD-LAB (American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors-Laboratory Accreditation Board) approved Digital Evidence in 2003 to be a designated discipline for which ASCLD accreditation may be obtained. The current accreditation category is now called 'Digital and Multimedia Evidence' and is offered for any or all of four sub-disciplines: Computer Forensics, Forensic Audio, Video Analysis and Image Analysis. There are basic criteria which digital evidence examiners must meet, but ASCLD accreditation does not certify examiners in any discipline.

  6. What certification is available for examiners in the digital evidence discipline?

    There are ongoing discussions of several groups for setting up independent certification programs for digital evidence. Until a certification program is completed and available for IAI members, individual agency certification programs should be adopted and/or continued in order to ensure the highest level of competence and proficiency is maintained for digital evidence examinations. A search of the World Wide Web for certifications shows a wide range of specific system, tool, and discipline certifications available including computer forensics, cell phone and digital device forensics, and others. The certifying organizations are as varied as the certifications and we can only recommend that the candidate use due diligence in selecting a program.

  7. What are some related web links to learn more about forensic digital evidence? (This listing is in no particular order).

    There are many publications and technical papers relating to questioned documents. Some of them are excellent references, but many are not. If you are in training to become a forensic document examiner, you should also check with your trainer before becoming too engrossed in a particular book or article. If you are not in a training program, you should verify the value of the book or article with a qualified forensic document examiner.

    The following is a non-inclusive list covering a wide range of forensic document issues and related subjects:

  8. What are current guidelines available to support law enforcement in the area of digital evidence?

    There are new drafts of documents being worked continuously, but here are a few sites and documents: