More than a few clients have walked through the doors of requesting their cell phone or laptop be analyzed by our digital forensics lab. Quite commonly the client is dealing with marital infidelity and highly suspects their spouse of a secret affair.
The first questions we tend to ask in these cases pertain to the ownership of the device in question and inform the client that computer forensic firms in the US are legally obligated to obtain permission from the owner of the device and to follow a legal process for cell records in digital forensics. The same holds true for mobile phone forensics and during a cell phone investigation. A reputable forensic investigator should always gain written permission of the device owner prior to conducting any investigation.
Without written permission from the device owner, the computer forensics expert would not be able to provide evidence that is admissible in court. The protocols in place for court approved evidence are for the protection of all parties involved and should be respected by the examiner. It is very important for computer forensics investigations done by professional computer forensics companies to be processed that are accepted by the courts in the event the case goes to trial.
In the case of marital court cases a device can be examined during the digital forensic investigation as long as one of the owners gives written permission. This would include a client giving permission to the examination of a device owned by both spouses.
Brenda McGinley, CEO, All in Investigations