The Department of Justice has just announced that it will revive a forensic science initiative that was begun in 2012, during the Obama Administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a halt to the initiative in April, in order to invite public comment.
Federal criminal defendants are being denied their full right to confront the evidence against them, according to a lawsuit recently brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. This is because the U.S. Department of Justice doesn't notify defendants when evidence against them was obtained via secret wiretaps and other surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or the Wiretap Act.
Over the past couple of decades or so, we've seen a lot of people exonerated via DNA evidence. We've seen a litany of scandals involving overburdened, inaccurate and even criminally inadequate crime labs across the nation. We've seen forensic evidence, once considered top-shelf, decline in reputation as its collection, processing, testing and results have all been shown to be subject to error -- or worse, shown to be flawed or invalid.
Suppose for the moment that you were the victim of a violent crime. Could you use evidence from your Fitbit (or another fitness tracker) to demonstrate that your heart rate spiked at the time of the incident? Now suppose you're the accused. Can the police use your Fitbit log or another Internet-connected app to prove what you were doing?