06 Dec The Vulcan Mind Meld
Private investigators who also do digital forensics are often asked to look at electronic devices such as computers or cell phones. Why is this done? It’s because there is no better way to find out what is going on inside the mind of another person than to look at their electronic devices. It’s the equivilant of what Star Trek’s Spock character does when he performs the “Vulcan Mind Meld.” This is a telepathic connection that allowed Spock to read someone’s mind. Here’s a scene from Star Trek showing Spock using the technique.
In a similar fashion, digital forensics allows the investigator to uncover not only behavior, but also the “intent” behind the behavior. It is arguably better than physical surveillance. People who use this include spouses going through divorce, parents who want to know what their kids are up to, survivors of recently deceased persons, and employers who want to know what their employees were up to. However, there is a problem that must first be overcome – and that is the expectation of privacy of the person whose device is being examined. Before performing the examination, the investigator should take steps to understand that the person whose device is being examined does not have an expectation of privacy. For example, in a divorce situation, the laptop belonging to a spouse might be acceptable to examine if it has no password, is stored in the living room, and everyone in the family uses it. However, if the laptop is password protected, is normally kept at work, and the other spouse doesn’t know the password, then this might not be acceptable to examine. Every case is different. An attorney is the best person to contact to determine if there is an expectation of privacy before conducting the examination.