Digital evidence

Companies doing business with China face a new worry: The Chinese legal system has yet to decide on the status of digital evidence. In Hong Kong, cases involving digital evidence are just beginning to emerge--only last year did the Customs and Excise Department begin to tackle Internet piracy cases.

"We have to prove to the court how we discovered the offense," says Vincent Poon, assistant commissioner of customs and excise. "We don't know if what we are doing now is acceptable to the court or not." Only the litigation of the cases over the next few months will tell whether the judge will accept the evidence, he adds.

Until then, say experts like Erik Laykin, president of Online Security, a security software company with offices in Los Angeles and Hong Kong, it pays to be prepared. Establish procedures for storing and indexing digital information such as e-mail messages, then write down what those procedures are. With a standard operating procedure laid out in front of them, judges are more likely to accept evidence from a plaintiff or defendant.

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