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Text Messages as Digital Evidence: Document or Structured Data?

Understanding the Makeup of a Text-Based Conversation

Text messages are becoming a common component of investigations and legal disputes. This is because text-based and multimedia communications are the norm in our daily lives, so much so that the word “text” has become a verb. We say to people, “Just text me.” We often resort to texting someone more than any other communication medium and will “shoot someone a quick text” before even thinking about calling them, sending an email or practically anything else. We communicate with emojis, animated gifs, and short videos.

Closing the Contextual Loop in Digital Investigations

Without All the Evidence, You May Not Know the Full Story

In the second part of our series on digital breadcrumbs, we provided a timeline surrounding an evening of travel that encompassed digital evidence consisting of monitoring flight delays, computer usage, and text messages. All derived from the digital breadcrumbs gathered from a corporate employee’s smartphone. In our timeline, there was some digital noise; events that had little or no bearing on our matter.

How Digital Breadcrumbs and Linked Data are Transforming Investigations

Document Centric Review is Quickly Becoming Antiquated

When it comes to electronic discovery the legal community has been focused mainly on electronic documents. These are things like email and office documents that can be neatly printed to an 8.5”x11” format. The desire is to have something that can be Bates stamped and placed into a tabbed binder. Counter to this document-based methodology the corporate world has monetized social media, smartphone apps and IoT devices, focusing on gathering mounds of digital data. This data, often referred to as our digital breadcrumbs, has spawned an entire industry driven by data science.

Using Link Analysis to Define Data Relationships in Investigations

Clarifying the Who Behind the What and When

Today’s digital investigations are being powered by link analysis. Link analysis is an analytical process whereby data points, often referred to as “nodes”, are used to identify relationships and connections between disparate data sources. The power behind link analysis and its rapid adoption in today’s era of big data is that it enables data visualization, data clustering, charting, timelining and more through data aggregation.

Metadata and Electronic Discovery: Content vs Context

When It Comes to Digital Investigations, It Matters.

Every app, every file, every digital thing created has associated metadata. It often sits in the background, sometimes it may be visible, sometimes not. It is the data that describes the data, and in the world of digital investigations, it is a critical component that provides context to digital evidence. But gathering and presenting metadata is not without its challenges. Let’s briefly examine the intricacies surrounding metadata. 

When is a Document Not Really a Document?

Does Metadata Count?

When it comes to metadata, is it a document or is it just data? This is a question often posed in electronic discovery. When you think of electronic documents you often think of the electronic file itself, such as an email or Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. However, each of these has a set of accompanying data that unto itself is a piece of evidence. The problem is that this underlying metadata is not a logical "document" per se, but more just a block of bits and bytes. 

Timelines in Investigations

A Brief history and Their Importance in the Context of Litigation

Timelines depicting historical facts have been part of our makeup as a society since as early as the fourth century when the Roman Christian scholar Eusebius developed a sophisticated table structure in order to organize and reconcile chronologies drawn from historical sources from around the world.1

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