Friday, April 27, 2012

Data and Time Stamps

Data and Time Stamps

An important issue to bear in mind when dealing with any analogue or digital device that contain a 'clock', for the production of a 'date and time stamp', is whether the clock's inaccuracy might not disbar evidence when considering the operation of the device and content found stored on/in a device.

McKeown was convicted of drink-driving following a Lion intoximeter breathalyser test. It was found that the date and time stamp was erroneous when compared to the material time of the breath test. On Appeal their Lordships identified that the fact that the date and time stamp was erroneous would not of itself prevent the 'machine' to still carry out an effective breathalyser test (DPP v McKeown [1997] 1 WLR 295).

Such cases provide useful material to research whether:

1) The ruling, could it be applicable to mobile/smartphones to carry out an effective process or recording where the clock is inaccurate?

2) What impact that might have regarding the admissibility of the content in files stored/residing on mobile/smartphones (or indeed tablets etc) could still be seen as unaffected due to an erroneous clock?

3) Could a clock's inaccurate date and time stamp allow content to be altered or amended before being presented for admissibility?

There are many layers of investigation involved in each of the narratives above, and there are other questions that haven't been raised.  Some food for thought, yes, but also a reminder that extracting and harvesting data  from a digital device is only a fraction of the work involved when dealing with mobile telephone evidence.

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