The Impact of Culture and Religion on Digital Forensics: The Study of the Role of Digital Evidence in the Legal Process in Saudi Arabia




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


This work contributes to the multi-disciplinary community of researchers in computer science, information technology and computer forensics working together with legal enforcement professionals involved in digital forensic investigations. It is focused on the relationship between scientific approaches underpinning digital forensics and the Islamic law underpinning legal enforcement. Saudi Arabia (KSA) is studied as an example of an Islamic country that has adopted international guidelines, such as ACPO, in its legal enforcement procedures. The relationship between Islamic law and scientific ACPO guidelines is examined in detail through the practices of digital forensic practitioners in the process of discovery, preparation and presentation of digital evidence for use in Islamic courts in KSA. In this context, the influence of religion and culture on the role and status of digital evidence throughout the entire legal process has been the main focus of this research. Similar studies in the literature confirm that culture and religion are significant factors in the relationship between law, legal enforcement procedure and digital evidence. Islamic societies, however, have not been extensively studied from this perspective, and this study aims to address issues that arise at both professional and personal levels. Therefore the research questions that this study aims to answer are: in what way and to what extent Islamic religion and Saudi culture affect the status of digital evidence in the KSA legal process and what principles the practitioners have to observe in the way they treat digital evidence in judicial proceedings. The methodology is based on a mixed-method approach where the pilot questionnaire identified legal professionals who come into contact with digital evidence, their educational and professional profiles. Qualitative methods included case studies, interviews and documentary evidence to discover how their beliefs and attitudes influence their trust in digital evidence. The findings show that a KSA judge would trust witnesses more than digital evidence, due to the influence of tradition, which regards justice and law to arise from the relationship between Man and God. Digital evidence, as it arises from the scientific method, is acceptable, but there is underlying lack of trust in its authenticity, reliability and credibility. In the eyes of the legal enforcement professionals working in all areas of the KSA legal process, acceptance of digital evidence in the KSA judicial system can best be improved if knowledge, education and skills of digital forensics specialists is improved also, so that they can be trusted as expert witnesses. This further shows the significance of KSA laws, regulations and education of digital forensic experts as the primary means for establishing trust in digital evidence. Further research following from this study will be focused on comparative studies of other Islamic non-Islamic legal systems as they adopt and adapt western guidelines such as ACPO to their religion, culture and legal systems



Digital Forensic, Digital Evidence, Islamic Law, Culture, Computer Forensic, Saudi Arabia



Research Institute