EuroMed Conference on Digital Evidence

The First EuroMed Conference for Digital Evidence was hosted in Lisbon, Portugal 23-25 April 2018. The meeting was timely with the passing into law of the U.S. Cloud Act and the EU Commission proposals for European Production and Preservation Orders.

Since the Arab Spring use of social media platforms has significantly increased in the Southern Partner Countries (SPCs). For example, Facebook has seen an increase of over 40 million from last year with Egypt gaining more than 14 millions Facebook users, Algeria 9.3 million and Morocco 5.5 million. The use of Twitter is also significant, with Egypt producing 152 million tweets per month and Algeria 71 million.

Unfortunately, as much as social media and messaging apps are used for legitimate purposes, there are those who use them to raise funds and recruit for terrorist purposes and plan attacks. The focus of the Conference was how the SPCs can speedily access digital evidence from Service Providers (SP) – often located outside of the region – for terrorism and other serious crime investigations.

The challenges faced by the SPCs are the same as many investigative, prosecutorial and judicial authorities around the world: How to secure information from a SP to avert an emergency – such as an imminent terrorist attack; how to locate, preserve and request digital evidence in the Cloud; encryption and delays in the mutual legal assistance process.

The Conference included SPC experts from both the Justice and Police sectors, enabling productive discussion on roles and responsibilities for those investigating and prosecuting offences that rely upon digital evidence. A draft Digital Evidence Manual was presented that will outline the essential steps to request this vital evidence for successful prosecutions and to avert emergencies. The Manual will also include mapping of relevant SP procedures, a step-by-step process to aide practitioners and model forms.

The Conference also brought together SPs, UNODC, CTED, IAP, EJN, EJN Cybercrime Network, CT MENA, Europol, Eurojust, Cybersouth and Iberred to ensure the Manual compliments their projects and objectives.

The Conference was a very positive step to ensure the right experts were gathered to enhance knowledge of processes, developing contact points and working collaboratively to produce a Manual that will be used in practice – I look forward to the next stage of this most important project!

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