Digital Information in Criminal Proceedings: The Concept and Evidential Significance
The purpose of the study is to clarify the concept of “digital information” in the criminal process and to determine its evidentiary significance. The paper analyzes the concept of “digital information” and clarifies its difference from the concept of “electronic information”. We have drawn a conclusion that the concerned information is digital in its form, and the concept of “electronic information”, which is used by a number of scientists, is incorrect. Methods for the preservation, transfer and use of digital information for evidence are considered. The study revealed the main problems of using digital information in criminal proceedings. One of them is the confusion between the concepts of “electronic”/“digital” information and “electronic evidence”, due to the lack of understanding of the specifics of this information, the characteristics of its storage and movement, which can be explained by the rapid transition from industrial to information society. The adoption of information technology and digital information is so specific that users only see the tools with which this information is transmitted, it means, its electronic media (previously there were only electronic computers), hence the substitution of concepts. The inference is drawn that digital information with the relevance property contained in computers and other hardware (electronic storage media) may be present in the materials of the criminal case in the form of a printout of a text file, a screenshot of the video, decryption of a video or phonogram, i.e., in documents (paragraph 6, part 2, Art. 74 of the Criminal Procedure Code). In cases where digital information is attached to the materials of the criminal case on electronic media (flashcard, CD-ROM, memory cards, etc.), we can speak of material evidence (paragraph 4, part 2, Art. 74 of the Criminal Procedure Code). Thus, the addition of the criminal procedure law to a new type of evidence—digital/electronic evidence is not required.
KeywordsLaw Legal institutions Enforcement Evidence Digital information Preliminary investigation Digital evidence
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