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Digital forensic science: A manifesto



(Citation)Citation information

M. S. Olivier. “Digital forensic science: A manifesto”. In: South African Computer Journal 28.2 (2016). Editorial, pp. 46–49


Forensic examination of evidence holds the promise of making claims about the truth of certain propositions with the inherent accuracy and reliability that characterises scientific endeavours. The propositions may relate to the artefacts examined or related artefacts. The nature of propositions about which claims can be made depend on the extent to which given propositions fall within the ambit of scientific knowledge and on the extent to which the examined evidence is suitable for the application of established science. A continuing series of incidents illustrate that in many forensic disciplines that promise is not met — often because some branch of forensic science happen to not being scientific at all. In fact, serious assessments of forensic science have shown that many (if not most) branches of forensic science are not scientifically valid.

Digital forensic science is one of the newest members of the family of forensic sciences. A number of reasons for concern exist that it is following in the footsteps of its more established footsteps and repeating many of the mistakes of those other branches of forensic science.

This viewpoint is written in the form of a manifesto that is situated in the current discourse about digital forensic science and practice. If challenges the current developments in digital forensic science by positing a number of demands that digital forensic science have to meet to be deemed scientific. The demands are posited as necessary, but not sufficient to ensure that digital forensic science uses science to contribute to justice. Appropriate responses to the manifesto is a change in digital forensic developments or an informed debate about the issues raised in the manifesto.

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DOI: 10.18489/sacj.v28i2.442

(BibTeX record)BibTeX reference

author={Martin S Olivier},
title={Digital forensic science: A manifesto},
journal={South African Computer Journal},
note={Editorial} )