New OSAC Publication on Digital/Multimedia Evidence

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Source:  Lucy A. Davis, BHS, AAFS OSAC Representative

The Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science (OSAC) Committees are tasked to provide information to forensic communities on current issues related to the various forensic disciplines. Below is notification of a recent OSAC publication regarding Digital/Multimedia Evidence. Academy members and anyone interested in the relationship between digital science and evidence is encouraged to read this publication. A description of the document and a link to it follow below.

OSAC, which works to strengthen forensic science through the development of technically sound forensic science standards, has published A Framework for Harmonizing Forensic Science Practices and Digital/Multimedia Evidence. The aim of this document is to guide the systematic and coherent study of digital and multimedia evidence, to foster interdisciplinary dialog and to harmonize fundamental processes that are common across most forensic disciplines.

Three years in the making, this document was prepared by OSAC’s Digital/Multimedia Science Task Group. The task group researched and debated the essential elements of digital/multimedia science, the nature of evidence, and overarching scientific principles, reasoning processes, and techniques. The task group also reviewed a large volume of pertinent literature and interviewed practitioners, academicians and other stakeholders.

The framework presented in this document includes five core forensic processes that, when coupled with the application of scientific reasoning, can be used to answer questions about evidentiary traces. The publication also describes forensic activities and operational techniques specific to digital and multimedia forensic science that support those core forensic processes, and it discusses the scientific nature and practice of digital and multimedia sub-disciplines. A number of these forensic activities and operational techniques might be similar to those of other forensic disciplines, and therefore could be explicitly redefined within those disciplines. Although forensic disciplines each have their own terminology, the overarching structure and vocabulary presented in this publication may be useful as a framework for harmonization across disciplines.

As digital and multimedia evidence and forensic science continue to evolve, the task group will update this document. The new framework will be discussed during the Digital Multimedia portion of the OSAC Public Meeting & Webinar on February 20, 2018, at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Annual Scientific Meeting in Seattle, Washington.