A digital forensic operation is a technological inspection, acquisition, and examination of digital media and/or their contents.
Such inspections may be carried by national competent authorities or EU competent authorities, such as OLAF. In the case of OLAF, Digital Evidence Specialists (DES) use forensic equipment and software tools. The objective is to locate, identify, collect and/or acquire data which may be relevant to an investigation, and may be used as evidence in administrative, disciplinary and judicial procedures.
Digital forensic operations in internal investigations of OLAF.
The legal basis for conducting a digital forensic operation in internal investigations of OLAF, is Article 4 (2) of Regulation (EC) 883/2013 as amended by Reg. 2020/2223, which empowers OLAF to have immediate and unannounced access to any information and data relevant to the matter under investigation, and to take a copy of, and obtain extracts from any document or the contents of any data medium held by the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, including from privately owned devices used for work purposes , and if necessary, assume custody of such documents or data to ensure that there is no danger of their disappearance. The Office shall be empowered to inspect the accounts of the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, while oral or written information may be also requested from officials, other servants, members of institutions or bodies, heads of offices or agencies, or staff members, thoroughly documented in accordance with the applicable Union confidentiality and data protection rules.
All officials, other servants, members of institutions or bodies, heads of offices or agencies, or staff members have a duty to cooperate fully with OLAF.
Source: Art. 4 (2) of Regulation 883/2013 as amended by Reg. 2020/2223
Digital forensic operations in external investigations of OLAF.
The legal basis for conducting a digital forensic operation in external investigations of OLAF is Article 3 (5) of Regulation 883/2013 as amended by Regulation 2020/2223 and Article 7 of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) 2185/96 which empower OLAF to have access, under the same conditions as national administrative inspectors and in compliance with national legislation, to all information and documentation held by economic operators, including computer data, necessary for the proper conduct of the inspection, as well as privately owned devices that are used for work purposes.
See also: OLAF Digital Forensic Operations Information Leaflet
Source: Art. 3(5) of Regulation 883/2013 as amended by Reg. 2020/2223
Source: Art. 7 of Regulation 2185/96
“Double funding” occurs when the same costs for the same activity are funded twice through the use of public funds. It is a basic principle highlighting the rules for public expenditure in the EU that no costs for the same activity can be funded twice from the EU budget. It is not allowed in any circumstances.
According to the CPR Regulation 1303/2013, an operation may receive support from one or more ESI Funds or from one or more programmes and from other Union instruments, provided that the expenditure item included in a request for payment for reimbursement by one of the ESI Funds does not receive support from another Fund or Union instrument, or support from the same Fund under another programme.
Source: Art. 65, 11 of CPR Regulation 1303/2013