Witnessing in court

In European Systems of Law, technological systems are not accepted as witnesses in their own right. In systems of law, the trade-off between presence and trust and between witness and truth has taken several centuries to develop. A witness is a formal position in the process of law for which one has to accept responsibility.

Accepting to be a witness is a conscious choice to want to be present and testify. In Court, a witness has to be sworn in by taking an oath. Physical presence is required to be able to judge the witness contribution to the search of the truth. If a witness is elsewhere, the witness has to go to a Court, where he/she is located, to be sworn in by a local judge. Only then can he/ she testify by the way of video or phone connection to a Dutch Court. In this sense, trust is a transferable property between trusted places. Technological obtained proof (like footage of surveillance camera’s or DNA reports or twitter logs) is only accepted when experts, who are physically present, testify about their understanding this proof (interview van der Vlies 2008).