In this virtual world of data national borders still matter

As communication technology changes, law enforcement agencies adapt their strategies for conducting criminal investigations. Today, electronic evidence, or e-evidence, increasingly holds the key to solving and preventing domestic and international crimes.

A significant part of communications data in which law enforcement agencies are interested is no longer stored on a device, in close proximity to a person of interest, but in the cloud. Email archives are a good example. Rather than clogging up memory on a smartphone or PC, they are hosted in data centers of the email provider, from where they can be accessed by customers at any time. The data centers can be located anywhere around the world and their location is often unknown to the email user.

Nonetheless, in this virtual world of data, national borders still matter when it comes to accessing electronic evidence, as Eric Holder points out in our latest #TechTalk on “Law Enforcement & Data”. The former U.S. Attorney General served as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer for six years during President Obama’s tenure. Today he is a Partner at the U.S. law firm Covington & Burling.

Holder also gives his view on the significance of e-evidence in law enforcement investigations, the protection of fundamental rights online, the need for international police cooperation and the unnecessary barriers to international cooperation. He calls on legislators to set clear rules for effective policing, noting that while “courts have the ultimate say if there is a dispute […], we have relied a little too much on our Courts [and] legislative solutions are the better way to go.”

EU legislators are currently in the process of drawing new rules for the sharing of e-evidence across borders in Europe. A legislative proposal is expected in January 2018. At the same time, efforts are underway by the U.S. Congress to modernize the regulation on accessing communication and adapt it to today’s technology.

Watch the full #TechTalk with Eric Holder here:


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