Posts Tagged ‘9th Circuit Court of Appeals’

Legal Issues with Online Investigations: Some background

Friday, January 15th, 2010

As Executive Director and Senior Counsel of the National Law Center for Children and Families, Richard Whidden is most familiar with laws and precedents related to child pornography—but stresses that investigators of other crimes can take away important information, too. “Much of the case law on electronic evidence comes from child porn cases because those are what prosecutors take on,” Whidden says.

During his webinar, “Legal Issues with Online Investigation,” on Thursday, January 21, Whidden will be discussing a sampling of cases from 2009 that had to do with Internet and computer forensics. One of the primary cases, however, has to do not with child pornography but instead with steroids.

Specifically, U.S. v. Comprehensive Drug Testing, Inc. describes forensic procedures relative to search and seizure of electronically stored evidence. Although it applies to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction, it’s likely that other courts will look to the decision when dealing with their own issues of electronic evidence.

The case also illustrates how the process of e-discovery has evolved over the past 10 years. Typically this is difficult to discuss. As Whidden says, “You could have entire symposiums on how the law has changed over the last 10 years, before you even break out the crystal ball on how it will change over the next 10.”

Notably, law changes according to the technology. “We’ve gone from pornographic images of children, to streaming video of abuse taking place,” says Whidden. “Modes of transmission change. Cell phone technology is much more prevalent now, and will continue to evolve.”

Whidden will cover other legal issues, such as the definition of “possession” of child pornography, procedures related to computer related evidence, search and seizure issues, and the difference between state and federal prosecutions. He will not discuss civil cases, only criminal cases because of the higher burden of proof.

Christa M. Miller is Vere Software’s marketing/public relations consultant. She specializes in law enforcement and public safety and can be reached at christa at christammiller dot com.