Forensic accountants risk breeching privacy rules, say legal experts

Forensic accountants could be breaching privacy and confidentiality laws
unwittingly, accountancy and legal experts at business group pro.manchester,
have warned.

Forensic accountants investigating problems ranging from fraud to insolvency
rely on ‘search orders’ issued by judges to access corporate information.

But search orders have yet to keep pace with technological advances, which
has resulted in corporate data being stored electronically, such as in hard
drives and USB keys, rather than filing cabinets, according to pro.manchester.

Forensic accountants who look at personal information stored electronically
could be breaking data protection rules, according to pro.manchester.

Accountants will often be able to see a vast amount of personal data when
searching computers and other IT systems. Some of this data may not be covered
by the search order.

Christopher Marks, a forensic technology expert at Ernst & Young, said:
‘Electronic evidence can be dynamite. The casual nature of email can expose
critical evidence in a case, finding the incriminating data is the problem.
Simple keyword searches of a hard drive or server just won’t do.’

Pro.manchester has called for judges to be educated on how technological
advances have changed the nature of evidence gathering for accountants.

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