This is not a drill – digital evidence management challenges are increasing exponentially. For instance, cross-border data restrictions have increased by 5x in 2022 compared to the preceding year, as reported by the Global Data Alliance.
This is why It is becoming increasingly difficult for law enforcement agencies to close cases faster. This begs another question: How can law enforcement professionals effectively fight crime in the face of excessive regulations?
The answer lies in a robust digital evidence management system. Such a system can come in handy for seamlessly navigating data-sharing challenges and ensuring multi-agency collaboration that ultimately leads to expedited investigations.
This blog will explore legal and technical challenges law enforcers face when securely sharing data across borders.
Then, we will further understand how a digital evidence management system can help overcome them – as if they were never there in the first place.
Cross-Border Data Sharing Challenges in the Light of Digital Evidence Management
New technologies were believed to break data-sharing barriers and eventually strengthen digital evidence management for law enforcement agencies.
Counterintuitively, technological advancement resulted in stricter regulations, giving rise to data privacy challenges.
Cross-Border Data Sharing: A Data Privacy Perspective
Before we uncover other challenges associated with cross-border data sharing, it is crucial to delve into the data privacy landscape.
After all, given the increasing importance of data privacy and protection, it warrants a dedicated section.
From a data privacy standpoint, cross-border data-sharing issues significantly threaten the integrity of sensitive information being exchanged between the stakeholders. Rightly so, since more than 2,200 cyberattacks occur daily.
It was reported in August 2023 that Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies accidentally leaked sensitive information about more than 1,200 crime victims, comprising their personally identifiable information (PII).
In another instance, Cumbria police admitted to leaking personal details of more than 2,000 of its employees, including covert law enforcement officers. Now, you can imagine how easy it is for data to fall into the wrong hands and face the consequences of unauthorized access.
Not only have data breaches in police departments become increasingly common in today’s high-tech world, but they also come at a significant cost. Not to mention, the stakes are even higher when the compromised data is part of a cross-border data transfer.
Think of a cross-border data breach as a beehive that invites the attention of various regulators striving for data privacy and protection. You certainly do not want a bad rep in a low-trust world. In case you mess with data, get ready to feel the sting of hefty compliance fines.
Other Cross-Border Data Sharing Challenges
Although data privacy concerns are legitimate, they are only the tip of the iceberg. Mind you, navigating the sea of cross-border data-sharing challenges is not smooth sailing.
Cross-border secure data sharing, in general, and digital evidence management, in particular, meet other challenges discussed as follows:
1. Different Countries, Different Laws
Despite the wave of globalization, the world has not been very successful in standardizing cross-border data-sharing policies. While the US, UK, and New Zealand have relatively open policies, many countries fall on the other end of the spectrum.
Can you believe that different countries do not even agree on a single standard definition of what constitutes personal data?
A 12-page publication by the New York University Journal of International Law and Politics highlights this issue of sheer ambiguity.
This disparity in cross-border data-sharing policies creates ambiguity and results in excessive costs (both time and legal) and process complexities for law enforcement agencies attempting to forge data exchange across the border.
2. Red Tape
From a legal standpoint, there are more cross-border data-sharing challenges than meet the eye. Let’s look at the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Failing to comply with GDPR results in the entity losing €20 million (US$ 21,963,600.00) or 4% of annual turnover, whichever is higher.
Ensuring data integrity in the face of excessive legal provisions is not always just about money. Bureaucratic processes not only result in substantial financial costs but also involve increased time costs due to sluggish operations.
Another legal provision that runs parallel to GDPR is the Law Enforcement Directive (LED). The said law exclusively caters to law enforcement agencies processing personal data for the “prevention, investigation, detection, and prosecution of criminal offenses.”
3. Data Localization
The globalization wave was supposed to blur the lines between borders. However, many countries are transitioning toward the data localization phenomenon. This not-so-new phenomenon greatly inhibits cross-border data sharing.
Not only is data localization inherently an inhibitor of cross-border data exchange, but actors in certain countries go too far in making the phenomenon worse by misusing data localization to avoid transparency and accountability.
For the reasons mentioned above, The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) calls for addressing cross-border data-sharing concerns to conduct law enforcement investigations. We agree transparency should be the key.
4. Low Trust Bar
Okay, so this challenge is specific to a particular region – yes, the US. With the emergence of GDPR in 2018, many countries (successfully) attempted to formulate and enact similar laws to guard the integrity of sensitive information.
However, according to a University of Missouri publication, the US lags far behind when formulating a GDPR-like data protection regulation. Despite the existence of data privacy laws, such as the Privacy Act of 1974, the US is unable to produce a law as comprehensive as GDPR.
The publication in question offers a strong critique of the US data privacy regulations, stating that “these acts [the Privacy Act of 1974 and the Fair Credit Reporting Act] fall short of GDPR standards.” These issues result in cross-border data-sharing challenges in the US.
Why Cross-Border Evidence Sharing is Important?
Not only is the number of crimes increasing at an unprecedented rate, but many of these wrongdoings are no longer confined to geographical borders — cybercrimes serve as one such example.
Since crimes are no longer restricted to national frontiers, the need for cross-border evidence emerges naturally.
With digital evidence at play in almost 90% of crimes, overseas law enforcement agencies seek ways to foster secure data sharing to expedite investigations. After all, justice delayed is justice denied.
How Digital Evidence Management Enables Cross-Border Evidence-Sharing?
Advanced digital evidence management helps law enforcement agencies with cross-border sharing of digital evidence in the following ways:
1. Secure Platform
A highly secure digital evidence management system fortifies the security of digital evidence by offering best-in-class data security features to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.
2. Secure Data Sharing
Advanced digital evidence management software enables secure digital evidence sharing of digital evidence to stakeholders, thereby smoothing multi-agency collaboration.
This, in turn, leads to faster resolution of high-profile cases like human trafficking.
How does the VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System enable Cross-Border Evidence Sharing?
VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS) fosters multi-agency collaboration and cross-border evidence sharing by offering:
- A CJIS-compliant, highly secure digital evidence storage repository for protecting digital evidence from getting into the wrong hands
- Multifactor authentication (MFA) to double down on user authentication
- Password protection of digital evidence that serves as an extra layer of security
- URL tokenization for temporary links to digital proof that expires after a certain period say 20 minutes
- Automatic login timeout after a certain period of user inactivity
- Geo-restrictions for hindering access to digital evidence from irrelevant parties
- Tamper detection to verify whether the digital evidence has been altered
- SSO integration with Azure Active Directory (AD), PingID, ForgeRock, OneLogin, and more
- Automated chain of custody report that records every activity that happened with digital evidence
- Real-time activity alerts for alerting the stakeholder of any irregular activity within the digital evidence management system
- A platform that complies with regulations, such as GDPR, CCPA, the US Privacy Act, and other legal provisions
- Built-in redaction of sensitive information to protect sensitive data from prying eyes and intruders
Enabling Cross-Border Secure Data Sharing with Digital Evidence Management
Behind every crime are the “hidden truths” that must be uncovered. Digital evidence management can help law enforcement agencies get the cat out of the bag by enabling secure data sharing regarding digital evidence, thereby fostering multi-agency collaboration and cross-border data transfer.
Sign up today for a 7-day free trial of the leading AI-powered digital evidence management system that helps you achieve multi-agency and cross-border collaboration.
Do Law Enforcement Agencies work together?
Yes, law enforcement agencies work together even from across the border to solve crimes that extend beyond a single nation, such as human trafficking, terrorist attacks, or any other high-profile crime.
Why is multi-agency collaboration during human trafficking criminal investigations important?
Multi-agency collaboration during human trafficking investigations is essential because of the sensitive nature of the crime and the geographic span of the criminal network that traffics humans and engages in the slave trade.
Why do we need a Multi-Agency Approach?
A multi-agency approach is needed because of the increase in the number of crimes and the rapid spread of crimes across different regions.
What is Cross-Border Data Transfer?
Cross-border data transfer is the exchange of information between law enforcement entities, which is necessary to solve cases faster and track criminals hiding overseas.
How do you Secure Digital Evidence?
Digital evidence can be secured for cross-border data transfer by storing it in a secure, compliant platform and restricting the sharing of evidence with the relevant stakeholders.