Back in 1999, Hany Farid was finishing his postdoctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was in a library when he stumbled on a book called The Federal Rules of Evidence. The book caught his eye, and Farid opened to a random page, on which was a section entitled "Introducing Photos into a Court of Law as Evidence." Since he was interested in photography, Farid wondered what those rules were.
While Farid was not surprised to learn that a 35mm negative is considered admissible as evidence, he was surprised when he read that then-new digital media would be treated the same way. "To put a 35mm file and a digital file on equal footing with respect to reliability of evidence seemed problematic to me," says Farid, now a computer science professor at Dartmouth College and a leading expert on digital forensics. "Anyone could see where the trends were going."