Digital Forensic Science: A Manifesto

Martin S Olivier


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
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.


Digital forensic science; Foundational science

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Copyright (c) 2016 Martin S Olivier

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