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How To Prevent Inadequate Digital Evidence Disclosure?

With there being digital evidence in unfathomable amounts today, it may occur that law enforcement agencies fail to disclose evidence that could prove to be crucial to a case. Why does it happen? What impact does it have? And what can we do about it?
by Muhammad Nabeel Ali Updated on March 28, 2022

When cases are undergoing proceedings through courts, evidence and other elements are brought forth in a systematic way. Physical evidence has its own methodologies of disclosure. However, in a world where digital mechanisms of data ingestion have multiplied ten folds over the last few decades, digital evidence has increased as well. This has brought forth the need for law enforcement to impose the necessity of digital evidence disclosure as deemed necessary by the court.

But often law enforcement officers fail to disclose evidence as needed by a court’s proceedings. Our minds would take from this statement to blame the law enforcement officers put in charge.

However, that is more often not the case, as there is a lot more to what appears to the eye at first glance.

So, why exactly do law enforcers face difficulty in disclosing digital evidence? What more is there that we can and should know about it and what can be done to go about it? This blog will entail all that to you and much more!

DEMS digital evidence disclosure CTA

Why Failure at Disclosure Could Lead to Severe Consequences?

Law enforcement officials who work on a case and collect evidence for it, digital and otherwise, are responsible for disclosing evidence, with the proper prerequisites done, when requested by the court.

Often when certain evidence is not requested, it is often dismissed by the law enforcers from disclosure, for several reasons. Even often upon request, certain elements of evidence are left out from disclosure.

However, what often is not comprehended by such law enforcers is that these left out evidence elements can be crucial to turning the direction of the prosecution around. Proceedings could end with entirely different results due to what this evidence may have to offer.

Hence, arises the dire need for proper digital evidence disclosure during hearings and otherwise.

If you are a law enforcer looking for a check list to help you keep in mind the elements necessary to oversee when presenting evidence, here's a list of 5 tips on how to present digital evidence in court.

How Do Law Enforcement Officers Fail to Disclose Digital Evidence to Court?

Infographic with quote from Dr Jan Collie about digital evidence disclosure

Source: The Guardian

Often the law enforcement organizations are not at fault when failing to disclose digital evidence.

That is mainly because law enforcement resources, regardless of how big an organization may be, are always limited compared to the massive heaps of digital evidence coming from various sources. There could be video and photographic footage from vehicle dash cams, mobile phone cameras, CCTVs and other sources.

The more the information, the troublesome the management and retrieval.

Proper management of all these heaps of digital evidence is a probable solution that not only makes the work of digital law enforcers easier but allows them to better analyze heaps of digital evidence and present the appropriate data to court for disclosure.

Moreover, for cases of a more confidential or private nature, disclosure of evidence is not always easy. Elements such as PII (personally identifiable information) and other forms of private, confidential information are legally protected from public disclosure.

Methodologies and processes required by compliances such as redaction are to be performed before this information can be presented to court or any other public setting.

The Solution for the Problem at Hand!

With all things considered, there is one solution that can aid law enforcement in various ways regarding appropriate digital evidence disclosure. That solution would be a complete management system for digital evidence.

The system would be equipped with an ample number of features for ingestion, storage, management, security and sharing of confidential digital evidence files.

As for the second matter at hand, law enforcement officers need to acquire a redaction tool that is applicable for all forms of digital evidence. Such a tool would allow for evidence files to be easily prepared for sharing in public settings without any violations to terms set by compliances.

However, for the effectiveness of the tool itself, the tool should allow for automatic redaction instead of manual, or preferably both, considering how much of a hassle and time-consuming task manual redaction can become if meant for thousands, or even hundreds of video, audio and image files.

To understand more about the debate of choosing between automatic or manual redaction, check out our blog Automatic Redaction or Manual Redaction – Which One’s Better?

VIDIZMO’s Digital Evidence Management System

Customized DEMS interface

Why should law enforcement organizations go for two or more separate tools for each of the requirements, when all of it can be accomplished with one complete tool?

VIDIZMO offers its Digital Evidence Management System as the complete solution that not only covers what we have mentioned above, but much more to meet every possible requirement that a law enforcement organization could potentially have, concerning digital evidence.

In light of the issues we discussed concerning digital evidence disclosure, VIDIZMO DEMS offers itself as the perfect platform to keep all your digital evidence organized for ease of future access.

Case folder management with the ability to assign folders to specific law enforcement officers, as well as manage access restriction and limit sharing capabilities, allows for organized management of evidence files.

Moreover, files can be accessed based off other dedicated attributes, or custom attributes, such as case docket numbers. This allows evidence files to be accessed fast, with more efficiency, and shared with the dedicated personnel only.

On the other hand, VIDIZMO also offers its Redaction Tool, which acts as the ideal solution to every law enforcement organization's redaction needs.

The redaction tool is versatile at what it does, with offering automatic redaction through on-demand face detection, and manual redaction options simultaneously in a single iteration.

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The redaction tool can work upon videos, audio and imagery of multiple file types. The redaction tool can be integrated into our DEMS and EVCM solutions and can be bought as a standalone tool as well.

However, VIDIZMO does not stop at what we have mentioned. Beyond what is necessary for digital evidence disclosure, the Digital Evidence Management Systems has a multitude of features, some of which are mentioned below:

  • Automatic Multilingual Transcription and Translation of uploaded video and audio files using AI-based algorithms, for better accessibility.
  • Security protocols such AES-256 and TLS to protect files at both rest and in-transit.
  • A complete maintenance of chain of custody to provide an audit log of each individual file.
  • SHA-3 hash function to prevent and secure evidence stored from any form of tampering.
  • Ability to create multiple portals for multiple designations, users or divisions of law enforcement, such as separate portals for the public and prosecutors.
  • User roles for video access management, establishing a hierarchy of various law enforcement officers each with their predefined permissions. 
  • The software can ingest from a multitude of devices, such as CCTVs, dash cams and body-worn cameras.
  • DEMS also offers the flexibility to integrate into your existing RMS, CMS and other systems.
  • All of VIDIZMO’s products can be deployed over a multitude of options, including any cloud of your choice, government cloud or commercial cloud, or in the data center of your choice.
  • The system supports a large number of file types for all media formats.
  • VIDIZMO adheres to the legal frameworks and is compliant with many such as CJIS, CRoC, FedRAMP, and others – directly and through partners.

Want to know more details? Feel free to explore our website or contact us. 

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Posted by Muhammad Nabeel Ali

Nabeel is a technology content strategist at VIDIZMO and an expert in evidence management technologies. He is actively researching on innovative trends in this domain such as AI. For any queries, feel free to reach out to nabeel.ali@vidizmo.com

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