Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Impact of Surveillance on the Practice of Law

Here's an interesting article on the impact of surveillance. "... For lawyers, large-scale surveillance has created concerns about their ability to meet their professional responsibilities to maintain confidentiality of information related to their clients. Failure to meet those responsibilities can result in discipline through professional organizations, or even lawsuits.

Lawyers also rely on the free exchange of information with their clients to build trust and develop legal strategy. Concerns over government surveillance are making it harder for attorneys – especially, but not exclusively, defense attorneys – to build trust with their clients or protect their legal strategies. Both problems corrode the ability of lawyers to represent their clients effectively.

As with the journalists, lawyers increasingly feel pressure to adopt strategies to avoid leaving a digital trail that could be monitored. Some use burner phones, others seek out technologies designed to provide security, and still others reported traveling more for in-person meetings. Like journalists, some feel frustrated, and even offended, that they are in this situation. “I’ll be damned if I have to start acting like a drug dealer in order to protect my client’s confidentiality,” said one.

The result of the anxieties over confidentiality is the erosion of the right to counsel, a pillar of procedural justice under human rights law and the US Constitution, Human Rights Watch and the ACLU found ..."

Click here to read the whole article.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Complete Workflow of Forensic Image and Video Analysis

This just in from Forensic Focus, "In this article we’ll describe the complete workflow for image and video forensics. In fact, just like computer forensics is not only simply copying and looking at files, forensic video analysis is broad and complex and there are many steps that are commonly missed and rarely taken into account. It can be quite overwhelming if we think of all the tasks related to analysis. As a forensic video analyst, it is important to be aware of all the possible steps needed for a really complete analysis. This way, you can stay organized and minimize the possibility of skipping or missing steps. Also, if you do have to go to court, you have an outline that serves as the basis of your presentation.

It is important to remember that the job of a forensic video analyst does not start and end with viewing and enhancing a video. It’s more complex than that. You must identify the data, decode it properly, document the process, compare it with other material, and then go to court. Since digital data is really just a collection of bits, below is an outline of a process around working with these bits what you need to do with the bits ..."

Click here to continue reading the story.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Storage medium vs. acquisition time


Discs and drives just keep getting bigger and cheaper. You can now get a 64gb card for your phone or camera for less than $30. Pop quiz: if you do a physical acquisition of a 64gb drive / card, how much storage will you need for the resulting file? Bonus question, how will you share / distribute the results?

Next question, how long will it take to acquire that file? If you're moving 64gb through a diagnostic port, it'll take days. If you're moving that much data through USB 1, it might take a day. Most devices haven't moved beyond USB 1 speeds. Thus, you'll need to account for the fact that your acquisition device will be tied up for a while. It might be time to budget for a second, or a third capture tool.

What about billing? Do you bill for machine time? Is it billed separate from technician time? If your machine is working on a single acquisition for 2 days, it can't work on anything else. Do your billing policies reflect this reality?

Finally, many agencies have written policies / procedures that call for storage / distribution on WORM discs. Great. What are you going to do with that 64gb .bin file?

If you haven't updated your SOPs and billing policies to account for the increases in media size, it's time.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Video as Evidence: To be evidence, what does video need?

There's an interesting conversation going on over at New Tactics in Human Rights about using video as evidence. Here's the question that kicked it off:

Welcome to the discussion! We want to start this discussion by exploring what we mean by "evidence" and why it's important in seeking justice. Consider these questions below when sharing your comments in this discussion topic:

  • The term evidence is used often (and somewhat broadly) in the human rights world. What does it take to ensure video documentation is legal evidence? In other words, how can we ensure video that activists sometimes risk their lives to capture, could be admitted into a court of law?
  • At what stages of the criminal justice process can investigators and lawyers use video evidence?
  • How do investigators and lawyers use video captured by activists in their process to seek the truth and secure accountability?
Head over to their site and see how the conversation is progressing.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Money for nothing

Marijuana decriminalization is all the rage these days. Regardless on where you stand on this issue, the movement is gaining momentum. Arizona law enforcement recently passed a resolution against decriminalizing pot in Az. The arguments are largely the same as those given in the days leading up to the end of alcohol prohibition.

But, the real - underlying issue isn't safety or health, it's money. According to many studies, asset forfeiture is a huge business. Just about every law enforcement agency has some asset forfeiture fund from which to draw for big ticket purchases. Unfortunately for them, it looks like this honey pot is going away soon.

How does this relate to the topic of DME and forensics? Simple. Our budgets are about to shrink big time - if they haven't already. Access to the easy money of asset forfeiture funds is about to go away, if it hasn't already. LE managers will have to think seriously about their purchases of gear, service contracts, and total cost of ownership.

Vendors like Adobe and Avid are moving to a subscription based software-as-service model. But our forensic tools aren't necessarily priced as such. They're usually very expensive. Those vendors with lower pricing may win out. But, either way, it's time to get frugal.