EU champions blockchain-powered law enforcement platform

Digital evidence will be more effectively managed and secured for presentation in court

Police

A Europe-wide platform that aims to digitise evidence for law enforcement has been given the go-ahead with backing from a 19 member-strong consortium.

Supported by the European Union's (EU) Horizon 2020 funding programme, the lawful evidence collecting & continuity platform development (LOCARD) aims to automate the collection and documentation of digital evidence for law enforcement.

One of the major challenges in this area is managing the rising number of data sources and data volume as the nature of crime becomes increasingly borderless. The holistic approach to handling digital evidence that LOCARD aims to foster will, it is hoped, lead to findings presented in the court of law in a more seamless way.

This process will take approximately 36 months to complete and follows the publication of an EU report in 2018 that called for a set of tools to manage the rising digitisation of the criminal justice system.

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The blockchain-powered system will also increase the trust in handling and processing the evidence by providing secure transport and storage to the data.

Although the applications of blockchain technology have been rather abstract, with cryptocurrency dominating the area, a handful of industries have developed practical applications. The financial services industry, for example, has developed platforms that ease the process of currency exchange across borders.

LOCARD has been devised to serve a number of law enforcement purposes such as creating technology to live-stream data as evidence, and allow investigators to publish anonymised data that can be used to find patterns.

Its backers are hoping that organisations finding themselves the victims of crime are also able to monitor the progress of their digital investigation in real-time using this platform.

Among the 19 organisations backing the project is an identity and privacy-centric think tank known as the European Association for e-Identity and Security (EEMA), which focuses on identification and authentication, as well as trust and privacy. 

"The exponential increase in the volume of digital evidence, emerging from a diverse array of sources such as smart devices, cloud services, surveillance systems, social media etc, presents organisations, law enforcement and prosecutors with an immense challenge but also a vast opportunity," said chairman Jon Shamah.

"Being able to swiftly gather evidence from a wide range of sources and manage the data in a way that preserves the chain of custody will enable cases to be investigated thoroughly, prosecuted faster and with higher success rates."

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