Problems with using CDs/DVDs to store digital evidence
There are many evidence related and technical problems with using CDs/DVDs to store your digital evidence data, if you haven’t experienced any of these issues yet, consider yourself lucky. A few of these problems are:
- No real chain of custody for digital evidence as far as who has viewed the files or who has downloaded them. While you probably have a chain of custody for the CD/DVD itself, that’s simply not enough.
- No evidence security, once the CD/DVD leaves the evidence room, you have no control over what happens to it. Imagine the embarrassment if a sensitive recording were to show up in the press or on YouTube.
- No evidence authenticity. Files could be altered before being copied to CD/DVD and no one would ever know.
- It can be tough to manage the digital evidence on large cases. For example, you receive multiple discs from a crime scene, then a few days later more discs arrive from the lab or from a search warrant, then later on you receive videos from multiple suspect interviews. There are a lot of labeling considerations just to keep it all straight. It can be particularly challenging when investigators or prosecutors want to review the digital evidence. You’ll have to sort through all of those discs and try find the exact ones you need.
- Cross referencing one case with another or sharing a single piece of evidence between related cases is complicated.
- The labor involved can be intensive. Even when the case is closed you still need to dispose the related physical evidence.
- One of the unknown technical problems with CDs/DVDs that they go bad and become unusable after a certain period of time. Losing digital evidence might be catastrophic to your case and you will have to make new copies of CDs/DVDs for each case every 2-3 years to preserve the evidence on them.
The list goes on but we wanted to point out few of the issues. Don’t depend on luck and stop using CDs/DVDs to store your digital evidence.