Bulletin Reports

Digital Evidence Access

The report Identifying Law Enforcement Needs for Access to Digital Evidence in Remote Data Centers aims to improve legitimate law enforcement access to and use of remotely held digital evidence in a manner that is legal, effective, timely, and understandable, with a focus on the discussion of an expert panel that addressed this issue.

State and local law enforcement agencies, in their investigations of crimes in their jurisdictions, increasingly need to obtain data and digital evidence held extraterritorially or by transnational companies. The expert panelists called for information exchanges on the types of data held by service providers, devices, and apps.

Acknowledging that an adversarial relationship often exists between law enforcement and various data sources, the panelists discussed means of developing a shared perspective and improving cooperation. Participants also identified several needs related to improving the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) process.

Suggestions for improvements include the creation of an online docketing system, research and analysis on MLAT data to identify bottlenecks, the development of a uniform system of jurisdiction, better training and information for instructors of foreign nationals on U.S. law, and research on expanding the MLAT regime to cover current gaps. Other recommendations pertain to guidance for investigators on the creation and appropriate bounding of requests for data, better standards for the creation of and compliance with data requests, and improved communication between law enforcement investigators and service providers.

The full report, NCJ 251674, can be found at https://www.ncjrs.gov.