A practical guide for requesting electronic evidence

“Online publishing of reprehensive content only takes five seconds for a criminal. Convicting this same criminal can, in the opposite, take years” said Mariusz Zurawek, founder of JustPasteit, at the 1st Euromed Conference on Digital Evidence in Lisbon on 23-25 April 2018. Electronic evidences can become essential components in criminal investigations and proceedings. Yet, gathering evidences in the digital world remains a significant challenge for law enforcement, especially regarding transborder investigations. Therefore, Euromed Police contributed to the creation of a set of guidelines to assist law enforcement and judicial authorities with when and how to request electronic evidence from service providers.

On the 26th of September 2018, Euromed Police, jointly with Euromed Justice, launched the Euromed Manual on Digital Evidence for counter-terrorism cases in the framework of a side event of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York City. The event “Collection, Use and Sharing of Evidence for the Purposes of Criminal Prosecution in Terrorism Cases” was organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP).

In a world where the use of internet is growing exponentially, the number of potential victims has considerably increased. The internet provides criminals with a myriad of possibilities, not only for committing new kind of crimes (for example, ransomware attacks) but also by facilitating access to criminal activities, for instance, by providing easier and cheaper ways to reach new victims. Cybercrime has nowadays a significant impact on our societies, ranging from the terrorist use of social media, harvesting of personal data to child pornography, among others.

The Euromed Manual on Digital Evidence will provide judges and investigators with suitable tools to engage with the so-called Communication and Internet Service Providers (CISPs) – for example Google or Facebook. Enhanced collection and adequate handling of electronic evidence will contribute to combat impunity, by bringing those responsible to justice. Notably, the Manual can be a useful tool for prosecuting foreign terrorist fighters, which may depend on the use of internet-based evidence and require forms of judicial cooperation that are not provided for in established legal frameworks.