About a week ago, I was called by Wired Magazine and interviewed about cloud storage for evidence sharing. My first thought was that cloud storage is a great technological advance and is very convenient for the courts, police, and lawyers who all need copies of audio and video forensic evidence. Then I thought about the chain of custody problem.
I have found that courts and litigators still take audio and video evidence lightly depending on who is presenting the evidence. When authenticated by a forensic expert, audio and video evidence can be a very important tool in the courtroom.
I have experienced incredible decisions when video evidence is shown in court to a jury. Video is like bringing the scene of the crime into the courtroom.? Of course, this works for both defense and prosecution in criminal cases as well as civil cases.
It is a hassle for some courts and police departments to authenticate audio and video forensic evidence as well as to maintain a chain of custody. There is one big problem with cloud storage and audio and video evidence: maintaining a chain of custody of any evidence uploaded and downloaded to and from any type of cloud storage.
On the other hand, I can see benefits to having the evidence available 24/7 for all persons involved in the litigation. A formal procedure will have to be established in order to make cloud sharing of audio and video evidence available.
For example, if the prosecution and defense were each issued a user name and password, the cloud storage service could monitor access as well as maintain the integrity of the original audio or video evidence. This would be fairly simple since most audio and video evidence is in digital form.
It all boils down to both sides agreeing on the identity of the original. If the original is not disputed and can be shared and tracked in a cloud storage environment, then cloud sharing of audio and video evidence can work. Once a dispute arises then the cloud storage environment will face forensic investigation to determine the proper chain of custody.