Ethics and Forensics- Time To Take A Hard Look | By Marisa Dery

Ethics and Forensics- Time To Take A Hard Look

The Oxford dictionary defines Ethics as “Moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity.”

Many organisations have a Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct that members have to adhere to. When you become a member of these professional organisations you make a commitment to honour basic ethical guidelines where you promise to “conduct oneself in a manner that doesn’t violate public trust”. [1]

I applaud for making that code available on their HOME page; other organisations, sadly, make their Code of Ethics harder to find.

I’ve been concerned about the possibility that Ethics and Proper Conduct has become an afterthought to many.

Technology, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, the rush to be the first at everything, are moving so fast that forensic professionals can’t keep up.

Lyrebird ( [2] is one of those companies that concerns me. On their Ethics page [3], Lyrebird states that they ” are making the technology available to anyone and … are introducing it incrementally so that society can adapt to it, leverage its positive aspects for good, while preventing potentially negative applications.”

This hands-off attitude is deeply disturbing. Thinking that you can release this powerful software (which will be perfected over time) and hoping that it will be used solely for positive uses is not only naive, but reckless and, dare I say it, unethical.

We are living in dangerous times. News organisations are under attack and TRUTH is under attack. Our job as forensic professionals is to find the truth; society depends on us.  What are we to do?

Perhaps now is the time to openly speak of the importance of Proper Conduct and Ethics. Companies should routinely have meetings where they discuss ethical behaviour. Students in technology and forensic academies should be required to take an ethics class to graduate. Forensic specialists need to be more proactive when they witness bad ethical behaviour. “If you see something, say something”.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is changing everything. While it might be extremely useful in our profession and for law enforcement, it can also be incredibly dangerous if used improperly. We, as professionals, have a duty to monitor technology and how it is used, especially if it is used for nefarious reasons. There also has to be a better mechanism for reporting it. Associations need to be clear that they will terminate memberships immediately if unethical behaviour is present. Too many people read the Code of Ethics in the same way that they read Privacy Statements when installing software: quickly, if at all.If we all make it a priority to discuss the role and importance of Ethics in the workplace and life, we are one step closer on winning the war for TRUTH.


[1] Section 1.08 



Originally posted here:

September 10, 2018

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