The key element for fostering both cooperation in criminal matters and exchange of electronic evidence is trust which strongly depends upon awareness. It is to be considered that there is a general need to harmonize and strengthen a common effort in preventing and combatting crimes, by creating a common framework to foster and improve cooperation in exchanging electronic evidence between Member States, including in relation to EIO and MLA procedures. In this context, the EVIDENCE2e-CODEX project aims at facilitating the exchanging of electronic evidence in the EU framework, making possible a better international cooperation in the criminal sector and taking actions in the specific context of EIO and MLA procedures that will allow a strong uniformity and harmonization of investigations’ procedures.
With respect to the above, there is a strong need to “prepare the floor” and to generate the context for the future development of secure and trusted exchange of electronic evidence in EU Member States in the specific scenario of EIO and MLA procedures.
e-CODEX has already established a proven digital infrastructure that supports the exchange of data between legal authorities for many cross border legal procedures in civil and criminal law. However, for the purposes of EVIDENCE2e-CODEX further support in MLA/EIO procedures is especially relevant.
In response to the outlined needs the EVIDENCE2e-CODEX Project aims at initiating the implementation of a common European framework for the correct and harmonized handling of electronic evidence during its entire lifecycle: collection, preservation, use and – in particular – exchange of electronic evidence. Therefore, the EVIDENCE2e-CODEX team will pilot the achievements of the EVIDENCE Project in a real life criminal justice use case to verify the developed exchange scenario and pave the way for the electronic evidence exchange in EU Member States.
A ‘true to life’ example of successful linking EVIDENCE to e-CODEX results in support of an EIO case is considered a substantial step in the modernization of cross border cooperation in criminal law. It will allow the EVIDENCE2e-CODEX team to assess which are the conditions, criteria and necessary impact measures to be implemented from legal, technological and sociological perspectives towards connecting judges, prosecutors, LEA officers and other stakeholders to the e-CODEX infrastructure in a user-friendly manner. The actions foreseen by the EVIDENCE2e-CODEX project will foster the way to the harmonization of the framework and the stakeholder awareness on the treatment and the exchange of electronic evidence in EIO and MLA procedures. Emphasis will be put on the relationship and approach to be adopted when dealing with Internet services providers.
Special attention is also envisaged on handling large size files. Digital evidence can be of all sorts with shared characteristic of larger size than ‘normal’ text files. Established judicial practice refer to mainly text-based situations while expectations are that video, audio and multimedia will become more and more important in near future. As size does matter in the context of digital evidence and the IT infrastructure of e-CODEX and the Member States the outcomes of the research meet the needs of the judiciary in establishing new practices in handing evidence.
Furthermore, the EVIDENCE2-eCODEX is to generate that necessary awareness towards rendering concrete and effective merging of the EVIDENCE project results with e-CODEX infrastructure and solutions for the specific purposes of allowing the exchange of electronic evidence in EIO and MLA context and extending this implementation to a Member State level. All stakeholders involved are to be properly informed and trained to understand, accept and further promote the electronic evidence exchange. To achieve that, project activities also cover legal, political, technical, ethical and social aspects, LEA-related actions and professionalization in the field of digital forensic.
The awareness campaign together with the open dialogue with stakeholders and the realization of a concrete ‘true to life’ example will allow the EVIDENCE2e-CODEX team to assess and build-up a ‘tailored made’ methodology for extending the secure electronic evidence exchange to all Member States.