|Data, Privacy and Public Safety: A Law Enforcement Perspective on the Challenges of Gathering Electronic Evidence|
|By International Association of Chiefs of Police|
Ubiquitous access to interconnected mobile devices and other advanced communications systems has transformed how we live, work, and communicate, enabling global communication with the touch of a smartphone screen. This expansion of interconnectedness has also provided a new tool of the criminal trade for criminals and created new challenges for law enforcement investigators. The issue of “Going Dark”—law enforcement’s decreasing ability to lawfully access and examine digital evidence at rest and evidence in motion due to technical and non-technical barriers—is increasingly placing public safety at risk.
Historically, the impact that advances in technology had on law enforcement capabilities was moderated by industry’s willingness and ability to comply with a law enforcement legal demand for access to evidence on a device or in a network. Historically, the manufacturer of a tablet or smartphone maintained a way to access a device even if the user could not. That access also prevented criminals from hiding data from law enforcement. With the proper legal authority, the police could require a manufacturer or service provider to furnish the key to unlock the device.
Recently, however, new technologies and strategies developed to advance network security are preventing law enforcement and justice agencies from executing lawful court orders to investigate criminal or terrorist incidents or to secure electronic evidence. Clear and sometimes insurmountable barriers to access of electronic evidence have been placed in the way of law enforcement seeking to identify suspects and protect communities from further crime. Those barriers to access include data encryption, outdated legislation, elevated proof requirements, cloud infrastructure, lack of data retention and preservation, and unreliable provider assistance.
Recognizing the growing challenges these issues represent for local, state, federal, and international law enforcement and criminal justice agencies, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) organized the Law Enforcement Summit on Going Dark in February 2015. The summit assembled a group of subject matter experts, including law enforcement executives and investigators, privacy experts, legal specialists, scholars and other professionals, to explore the nature of the challenges of Going Dark and to examine the technical, operational, legal, and policy issues that must be confronted in addressing these challenges. The summit also explored potential strategies and action steps to craft a balanced approach to privacy and public safety and to ensure lawful access to evidence at rest and in motion.
In this report, participants in the Law Enforcement Summit on Going Dark detail the technological and legal landscape surrounding the issue of Going Dark, they define the barriers to access faced by law enforcement every day, and they outline the key ideas that their law enforcement peers should know when discussing the issue of Going Dark. Those themes are the following:
To view the full report click here.
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