Suspicion has a stronger psychological effect than evidence

A while ago I read in the cultural magazine Ñ, published by Clarín newspaper in Buenos Aires, this interesting reflection: “Suspicion has a stronger psychological effect than evidence” Is that true? I believe it is.

You only have to think of the film “Suspicion”, starring Cary Grant and Jane Fontaine, directed by Hitchcock, to fully agree with this statement, or the drama “The Children’s Hour” by William Wyler which shows how a girl is punished and the subject of revenge for accusing Karen (Audrey Hepburn) and Martha (Shirley McLaine) of socially unacceptable behaviour. The teachers cannot prove anything with evidence and have to watch as rumours and suspicions spread like wildfire with devastating consequences.

This has always been and will always be the case in social relationships, but since we deal with the electronic kind, that is to say, electronic relationships, we want to go one step further and put the above statement in a digital context: “A suspicion of electronics has a stronger psychologically effect than electronic evidence. Is that statement also true? In my opinion, the answer is once again: yes.

If we look at commercial relationships, at how businesses reach their clients, how they interact with other companies or even how public authorities interact with their citizens, there is one common strategy: the relationship must involve technology.

What happens when an interaction moves from face-to-face to online? Firstly, be very careful how you do things because online relationships are very useful in terms of cost savings and operational efficiency but also very dangerous from a legal point of view. Let me explain.

The three most significant changes that happen when moving from the tangible to the intangible are:

  • Physical identity becomes digital identity;
  • Direct exchanges become indirect exchanges;
  • Paper evidence becomes electronic evidence

These changes create a series of problems that must be solved in order to securely change to long-distance relationships. The only reliable and guaranteed way to solve these problems is to use a Trusted Third Party.

When both parties are absent, electronic evidence is inevitably needed but, unlike paper evidence, this can now be altered and deleted. Electronic evidence is very volatile, it is easy to change and one-sided – either one side has it or the other – since both would make it susceptible to manipulation.

Should we build relationships with clients or the public based on evidence that can be manipulated? Obviously not.

The figure of the Third Party gives evidence the solidity it needs to make business models legally secure: it stops electronic files from being volatile and one-sided, it prevents rejection at the other end and ensures that the custody chain is never broken.

If we don’t want the effectiveness of electronic evidence to be overshadowed by a suspicion of the electronic, and therefore offer ideas for future scripts like those of Alfred Hitchcock and William Wyler, we must use a Trusted Third Party to ensure that there are no problems with the evidence used to support contracts made over the Internet; electronic notifications; or publications made online, should it need to be submitted as part of a legal process.

Author: José Manuel Oliva

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