Searching, Copying and Seizing of Computers, Computer Programs and FilesNeslihan Ateş Benek
The rapid progress and stunning developments experienced in the technological world very directly impact all areas of life, including the field of law. One of the most striking impacts in the field of criminal procedures is how criminal acts transfer to the digital world and how digital evidence can be used as proof of these crimes. In the face of this transformation, digital evidence has opened the doors to a new world and started being used just like classical evidence in the field of criminal procedural law. With the increase in the number of crimes committed by using the opportunities offered by information technologies, using digital evidence that has been obtained within the scope of scientific principles has become inevitable for both revealing the truth and capturing criminals. This article deals with the issues of searching, copying, and seizing the digital evidence that is present in computers, computer programs and files.
Bilgisayarlarda, Bilgisayar Programlarında ve Kütüklerinde Arama, Kopyalama ve ElkoymaNeslihan Ateş Benek
Teknoloji dünyasında yaşanan hızlı ilerlemenin ceza muhakemesi alanındaki en göze çarpan sonuçlarından biri, suçun ispatında dijital delillerden yararlanılmasıdır. İçinde bulunduğumuz bilgi çağında teknoloji dünyasında ortaya çıkan baş döndürücü gelişmeler, hayatın her alanında değişikliğe neden olduğu gibi hukuk alanında da etkilerini göstermiştir. Öncelikle suç işleme tarzları değişmiş ve suç dijital ortama taşınmıştır. Teknoloji alanında yaşanan bu dönüşüm karşısında, dijital deliller adeta yeni bir dünyanın kapılarını açarak ceza muhakemesi alanında klasik deliller gibi kullanılmaya başlanmıştır. Bilişim teknolojilerinin sunduğu imkanlar kullanılarak işlenen suçların her geçen gün artması karşısında gerek maddi gerçeğin ortaya çıkarılması gerekse suçlulukla mücadele kapsamında, bilimsel esaslara uygun olarak elde edilmiş dijital delillerden istifade edilmesi kaçınılmaz hale gelmiştir. Bu makalede de dijital delilleri elde edebilmek amacıyla bilgisayarlarda, bilgisayar programlarında ve kütüklerinde arama, kopyalama ve elkoyma tedbiri inceleme konusu yapılmıştır.
In criminal procedural law, anything can be considered evidence provided it possesses characteristics pertaining to crime. As regards the principle of having free access to all evidence, no difference exists between digital and physical evidence. Also, due to the hierarchy of evidence being invalid with regard to criminal procedure, making a distinction between which evidence is important/strong or unimportant/weak is not possible. As a result of the tremendous developments in the field of technology also having increased the number of crimes committed regarding information systems, the need for digital evidence has gained increasingly greater importance, as well as its use as a means of proof. However, because the use of evidence obtaining measures such as the search, copy or seize of digital data belonging to individuals constitutes an infringement of many legal values, legislators have also regulated legal measures and bound these to strict conditions.
The measure on searching, copying, and seizing evidences from information systems in relation to crimes committed with use of digital technologies is listed in Criminal Procedure Code (Law No. 5271) and constitutes a special instance of the search and seizure protection measures. Article 134 of this Criminal Procedure Code covers the procedures regarding the gathering of data stored on information systems.
The topics of this study are the matters of the search, copy and seizure of digital evidence from information systems, and these matters are measures that can be applied to all criminal areas. Legislators have not limited the scope of crime in terms of the application of these measures. In this context, the relevant measures can be applied to all investigations that require the collection of digital evidence, whether for classical or cyber crimes.
In order to make a decision regarding the measures regulated in Article 134 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the conditions stipulated in the law must be fulfilled. These conditions are: the presence of strong grounds of suspicion based on concrete evidence and the absence of the possibility of obtaining evidence any other way. Evidence obtained after search, copy and seizure procedures have been made that do not adhere to these legal conditions should also be noted as being unusable as criminal evidence due to being outside the confines of the law. In addition, obtaining digital evidence in accordance with the technical requirements is also extremely important. Obtained evidence must be submitted to the judicial authorities intact and in full. Otherwise, even if this evidence had been collected by field experts, it is neither acceptable as lawful evidence nor will it be taken as a basis for judgment.
Article 134 of the Criminal Procedure Code should be amended in accordance with the requirements of the age in the face of the rapidly developing and changing digital technologies. This regulation should also safeguard suspects’ fundamental human rights and freedoms. In addition, the changes should occur rapidly and be sufficient to put an end to all the discussions regarding the doctrine. Due to digital evidence being among the most important evidence of the current day, guarantees should be introduced to ensure that this type of evidence is collected in accordance with the technical requirements and evaluated within the scope of scientific principles.
In summary, this paper aims to analyze the processes related to detecting and evaluating digital evidence within the framework of the general principles of criminal procedural law. In this context, the paper examines the search, copy and seizure measures regarding the information systems covered in Article 134 of the Criminal Procedure Code and provides explanations with respect to computers, computer programs and digital files as listed in Article 134. The paper additionally discusses the legal nature of the measures, their conditions and the way they are applied within the framework of discussions regarding the doctrine, the problems experienced in practice and the judicial decisions.