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BALANCING JUSTICE: NAVIGATING ETHICAL AND LEGAL WATERS IN FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS


This article is written by Jobanpreet Singh Sohal.


ABSTRACT

The emergence of digital technology has revolutionized forensic investigations, offering powerful tools for legal and investigative purposes. However, the utilization of digital forensics presents complex ethical challenges, particularly in balancing the demands of privacy protection with investigative imperatives. This paper delves into the ethical dimensions of advanced forensics, highlighting key concerns such as privacy infringement, bias and discrimination, and the accuracy and reliability of findings. By establishing clear standards and guidelines, fostering collaboration and accountability, and promoting ongoing education on ethical principles, practitioners can navigate these challenges effectively. Through a comprehensive exploration of ethical considerations in forensic investigations, this paper underscores the importance of upholding ethical standards to ensure fairness, integrity, and trustworthiness in the forensic science profession.


INTRODUCTION

The rise of digital technology has led to new challenges regarding security and privacy. Utilizing digital forensics, which involves collecting, preserving, and analyzing electronic data for legal and investigative purposes, presents ethical dilemmas. While advanced digital forensics can be beneficial for businesses and law enforcement, it prompts ethical considerations regarding balancing investigative needs with individuals' rights to privacy.

The risk of privacy infringement stands out as a key ethical concern in digital forensics. Investigators frequently gain access to sensitive information without proper authorization or a warrant, potentially violating individuals' privacy rights. For instance, in the case of the iPhone used by a perpetrator in the San Bernardino shooting, the FBI requested Apple to create a backdoor in 2016 to gain access, sparking significant privacy concerns.

 

BACKGROUND

 

A profession distinguishes itself from a mere trade through the adherence to a specific code of conduct, voluntarily followed by its members. These codes are often ethical and not externally mandated by legislation. Each profession typically establishes its own set of codes or a self-regulation system. In the absence of such self-regulatory frameworks, government-imposed laws may lack fairness and contain significant flaws. There is a need to establish unique standards for forensic scientists, as ethical codes are specific to organizations and partly relevant to legal researchers. These guidelines would help guide forensic scientists in situations where their profession raises ethical concerns. Such guidelines may assist forensic scientists in determining the most appropriate course of action in instances where what is deemed ethical by one individual may be considered unethical by another.

 

PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL ETHICS

Forensic science, the application of scientific principles to legal matters, raises ethical questions at their intersection. The ethical considerations in forensic science are complex and often contentious, leaving forensic professionals grappling with ethical dilemmas. However, they can navigate many of these dilemmas because of the perceived distinction between ethics and morals. In the realm of forensic science, "personal ethics" or morals refer to the individual beliefs or religious considerations that are not directly tied to one's professional or scientific roles. On the other hand, "professional ethics" encompass the fundamental standards or guidelines governing scientific and professional behavior, distinct from personal ethics or morality.

 

PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS

One ethical quandary prevalent in forensic science revolves around the presentation of inaccurate qualifications before a judge. This misleading practice encompasses various forms, such as falsely asserting the attainment of academic degrees from prestigious institutions, misrepresenting professional certifications, or providing misleading information about one's employment history. These fabrications are typically intended to impress clients or judges, creating an illusion of expertise and credibility. By inflating their credentials, forensic professionals may seek to avoid uncomfortable situations like rigorous cross-examinations that could potentially undermine their credibility. However, engaging in such deceptive practices not only compromises the integrity of the forensic science field but also erodes trust in the legal system as a whole.

 

LEGAL ASPECTS


ANALYTICAL TECHNIQUES IN LABORATORIES

In laboratories, strict and sanctioned procedures govern the conduct of analytical tests and the documentation of their results. Adherence to these standards is paramount within laboratory settings, and it is deemed unethical for forensic scientists to deviate from them. Conducting analyses inadequately or arbitrarily, as well as tailoring analyses to fit predetermined legal criteria, constitutes unethical behavior. When forensic experts describe findings without conducting proper analysis, it is referred to as "dry-labbing." It is imperative that the conclusions and recommendations provided by forensic scientists are accurate and comprehensible.

 

PRESENTATION OF TESTIMONY IN COURTAND THE INTERPRETATION OF ANALYTICAL DATA

 

When afirming in court, legal researchers wrestle with several ethical quandaries. The utilisation of logical language, the utilisation of conflicting or deluding declaration, over-the-top quibbling, backing, and inclination on the side of scientific researchers are as it were some cases of the moral issues that might emerge when deciphering expository information and showing declaration in a court of law. How discoveries and conclusions are passed on by scientific research facilities is another issue. A few research facilities display meagre results without any germane or significant legitimations. The measurable researcher who conducted analysis is as often as possible not indeed required to appear in court for the declaration.  


USING FORENSIC SCIENTISTS FOR PROFIT

 

The morals within the field of measurable science were genuinely undermined by the rise of private counselling firms. Such private specialists are absolved from any pertinent disciplinary laws. The proficient astuteness of a part may be less of an issue in scientific science than in other callings since we have or may involvement foremost thorough frame of quality control, which is cross-examination in courts, where any misbehavior, exclusions, or fudging is exceptionally the likely to be exposed The threat of malpractice is most elevated within private counselling since there's less oversight, fewer peer surveys, and more money-related inspiration

 

RESPONSIBILITIES TO THE FORENSIC SCIENCE COMMUNITY AND UPKEEP OF PROFESSIONAL SKILLS

 

All forensic scientists have an inherent duty and responsibility to uphold the higher ethical principles and standards of the forensic science profession as a scientist researcher, and practitioner. Failure to stay current with new developments and updated knowledge, wrong use of proficiency tests, and perpetuating bad educational practices are three categories of ethical difficulties.

 

OBJECTIVE

The objective of truth-telling lies in recognizing the limitations of the methodologies employed to derive conclusions, while subjective truth-telling entails stating what we perceive to be true. It involves acknowledging the boundaries of our professional and scientific knowledge, upon which deductions have been made. Maintaining objectivity involves incorporating literature into reports that both support and challenge our hypotheses, using the established framework recognized by the scientific community. Similarly, forensic scientists must uphold objectivity when drawing conclusions, achievable through adherence to accepted ethical standards.

 

Ethical forensic scientists strive to derive findings from unbiased examinations within their training and expertise. They prioritize objectivity, considering all factors before making judgments. They uphold responsibility and impartiality in their studies and evaluations, owing to their obligations to the public.

 

The realm of ethics continues to perplex researchers and scholars, intersecting often with research endeavors. Ethics form the core of any profession, anchoring its integrity, legitimacy, and honesty. Although ethical standards may vary among individuals, they must be upheld to maintain the profession's integrity. Forensic science addresses legal issues, potentially exonerating or incriminating individuals. Hence, every forensic organization must have an ethical code guiding forensic scientists in their duties with honesty and diligence.

 


NATURE AND SCOPE

The planning and creation of the model that serves as the foundation for the research heavily depends on the relationships between the raw data, ethical principles, and information generated.

 

According to Philip Brey, " It should also examine moral questions related to the development of computer technology."

 

This is crucial because when Al and data mining are used in forensics, intelligent agents that frequently make decisions automatically and act autonomously without human intervention are involved. They are nevertheless directed by human interaction. He contends that certain artefacts (in our example, tools or processes) might be connected to recurrent effects. If this claim is broadened, it can be asserted that "particular consequences may manifest themselves in all of the central uses of the artefact."

 

This generalisation is not always accurate, and it results in an overly deterministic perception of the item. It does, however, imply that while using an artefact, one might anticipate some repercussions to be required or unavoidable. This outcome can be considered as having an integrated consequence that Brey referred to as an "embedded value" to make it more regulated and predictable. For instance, spyware frequently violates privacy regardless of how it is utilised. As privacy invasion is the opposite of embedded value, one may argue that it has inherent disvalue.

 

CONCLUSION

 

In outline, the morals of advanced forensics could be a troublesome and complicated subject that requires carefully weighing the requests of protection concerns against investigative prerequisites. Even though advanced forensics may be a valuable device for organizations and law requirements, it too brings up noteworthy moral issues concerning security intrusion, preference and separation, and precision and constancy. Building up standards and rules, empowering participation and communication, maintaining duty and openness, and cultivating collaboration are all basic to guaranteeing morally advanced forensics procedures. To keep current with security laws and directions, predisposition, mindfulness and relief, and precision and constancy in information examination, legal agents and other experts included in advanced forensics must get persistent preparation and instruction on moral standards.

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