Over the past several years criminology has made leaps, bounds, and advances to enhance capturing criminals. Due to the increasing technology at the fingertips of criminals and terrorists law enforcement has been forced to step of their resources and intelligence. The government is constantly faced with new methods people have created to commit crime. Technology is infiltrating every aspect of the criminal justice system, from the investigation to the prosecution of crimes and even to attempts to predict them. What steps is law enforcement and the government taking to ensure our safety and to catch the criminals and terrorists? Biometrics
After the attacks on 9/11 the government discovered America was not truly prepared for anything. America lacked the technology and resources to stop terrorist’s attacks. Suddenly, the United States government became acutely aware that it didn’t know exactly who was passing in and out of the country. After 9/11, the U.S. Congress decided we must have some way of securing our borders. What did the government do to try to protect the nation? They looked into security measures such as biometrics. “Biometric is the most secure and convenient authentication tool. It cannot be borrowed, stolen, or forgotten and forging one is practically impossible. Biometrics measure individual’s unique physical or behavioral characteristics to recognize or authenticate their identity. Common physical biometrics include fingerprints, hand or palm geometry, retina, iris, and facial characteristics.
Behavioral characters characteristics include signature, voice, keystroke pattern, and gait. Of this class of biometrics, technologies for signature and voice are the most developed” (Biometric Security Technology, n.d.). Today, our identities are verified almost exclusively by things that you carry with you and things you remember. Driver’s licenses social security cards, birth certificates and passports are common documents people carry with them, and passwords and PINs are common security measures people remember. Physical identification is easy to fake, and passwords are easily cracked by hackers, who then have nearly unfettered access to our credit cards, bank accounts, and personal data. People make fake driver’s licenses, social security cards, birth certificates and even death certificates.
Hackers only need limited information about a person to steal their identity. It is mind boggling to think what little data criminals need that can turn a person’s life upside down in a matter of seconds. Something needs to change and biometrics could be that change. Biometrics are a fundamental shift in the way people are identified. Unlike traditional identification which individuals must either remember or carry with them, biometrics is the individual, it is a part of who you are so to speak. Fingerprints, voice analysis, iris patterns, vein matching, gait analysis, and so on. Such traits are unique to an individual and often, though not always, incredibly difficult to fake. “United States government has poured money into research, development, and acquisition of biometric identification systems.
The Department of Homeland Security has spent over $133 million on biometrics since 2003, and the Defense Department is predicted to spend $3.5 billion on the technology between 2007–2015. The Federal Bureau of Investigations has rapidly expanded its fingerprint database and is currently developing a more sophisticated system that will add iris scans, palm scans, and facial recognition to the mix” (De Chant, 2013). Just because biometrics cannot be lost or misplaced does not mean they cannot be misused. Privacy concerns loom large with biometrics. A biometric security measure by itself is not threatening, though they are easily linked to other, potentially sensitive information, and that’s when people grow uneasy.
Biometrics are a part of person and not something that can easily be discarded like a Facebook page or a password. This causes a lot of anxiety for some people. The government would have part of everyone on file at their disposal and would it always be used correctly or will American’s become violated by this extra power the government would have? There is already a lot of mistrust in the government it would be difficult to get the American nation as a whole on board with the government having access to our fingerprints, retina’s, faces, and palms. There are people even in our criminal justice system that abuse their power and give out information that should not be given to certain people, who is to say that same would not happen with should vital information as biometrics.
As rates of cybercrime continue to increase exponentially, law enforcement agencies will have to enhance their cyber-defenses to effectively fight online attacks. New technologies promise to play an important role in this battle for cybersecurity. The war on cybercrime and cyberterrorism has given a major boost to the IT and security industries. In the coming years, the fields could experience even greater growth, possibly generating hundreds of billions of dollars in the US alone. Cyber criminals can be computer geeks looking for bragging rights, to businesses trying to gain an upper hand in the marketplace by hacking competitor websites, from rings of criminals wanting to steal your personal information and sell it on black markets and even spies and terrorists looking to rob our nation of vital information. In this day and age of advanced technology, we have become accustomed to all the benefits that computers give us in terms of convenience. While most of us would never want to go back to doing things the old fashioned way, it is very important to be aware that anyone can become a victim of cybercrime.
“To effectively detect and deter cyber criminals, it is vital for our law enforcement agencies and our legal community to look beyond our nation’s borders and work with their international colleagues in order to have a global framework of cybercrime statutes. One of the new devices to help detect cyber criminals is a Wi-Fi Investigator. The Wi-Fi Investigator is a tool designed to help law enforcement officials specify locations in order to apprehend suspect devices, including laptops and smartphones. Another featured gadget produces powerful magnetic pulses in order to instantly erase sensitive data in the event of a security breach” (Brown, 2010). Another useful tool for law enforcement is the Global Positioning System or GPS. This is used to help track criminals on probation and parole.
This can also be useful in court to show a suspects whereabouts during trial or in tracking down a kidnapped victim. The GPS has become a vital part of an investigation and something that some investigators may even rely on. The same can be said for cellphones since most of them now days are equipped to tell your location as well. Tools and devices are not the only thing that is used to try to deter cybercrimes, there are laws in place as well. Recently, President Obama calls for a new law for cybersecurity. “The new cybersecurity effort came a day after Mr. Obama called for legislation to force American companies to be more forthcoming when credit card data and other consumer information are lost in an online breach like the kind that hit Sony Pictures, Target and Home Depot last year. Concern about cybersecurity has increased after the hacking of Sony in December, which the United States government says was the work of the North Korean government.
The president said that breach and an attack on the United States Central Command’s Twitter account proved the need for an overhaul” (Hirschfeld Davis, 2015). The cybersecurity measure Mr. Obama envisions would encourage companies to share threat information such as Internet Protocol addresses, date and time stamps, and routing information with the Department of Homeland Security, which would swiftly pass it on to other government agencies and industry groups voluntarily formed to share such material. Companies would get “targeted liability protection” for doing so, as long as they took steps to protect consumers’ personal information (Hirschfeld Davis, 2015). “President Obama also called for law enforcement tools to combat cybercrime, including to prosecute the sale of botnets, computer networks created to carry out cybercrime, and to give courts power to shut down those involved in denial of service attacks and other fraudulent activities” (Hirschfeld Davis, 2015).
Fighting cybercrime is not just the responsibility of the government it is everyone’s responsibility. Anyone at any time can be attacked by a cybercriminal there is no limits when it comes to cybercrime. The government and law enforcement does their best to protect everyone but it is difficult to protect against someone you cannot see. There is still concerns that maybe technology is trying to take over good old fashion police work such as patrolling and even investigating itself. Is the government looking for the quick technological fix rather than to invest in what it takes to get communities to collaborate on their own safety?
The problem is an over-reliance on technology with too little recognition that policing is primarily a people business. Law enforcement and local communities often see technology as a panacea to make communities safer without asking the hard questions. While technology is good to have and it does help to solve some cases it will never replace a police officer. People find safety and security when they actually see someone protecting them. People need that reassurance.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigations maintains a national DNA database known as the Combined DNA Indexing System or “CODIS”. The pilot program for what became CODIS started with fourteen state and local laboratories. Today, there are over 180 public law enforcement laboratories that use CODIS. The FBI Laboratory’s CODIS program allows federal, state, and local crime laboratories to store, search, and share DNA profiles electronically” (The DNA Act, 2015). The practice of taking DNA samples from convicted criminals is now largely uncontroversial. The courts have routinely upheld laws that authorize DNA collection from both current and former convicts, and the resulting databases of DNA have become powerful tools to analyze forensic evidence collected from crime scenes. The databases help to clear innocent suspects and redirect law enforcement officials away from unproductive investigations.
They also help to convict guilty criminals and clear the wrongfully convicted. A trend that is causing significant debate is gathering DNA samples from people who are arrested but not convicted (Berson, 2009). “About 20 states and the federal government have passed legislation that requires DNA collection upon arrest. This legislation has raised concerns that crime laboratories may be unable to manage an influx of samples from a new source and that preconviction DNA collection may violate Fourth Amendment privacy guarantees. Some people worry that collecting DNA creates the potential for abuse of genetic information stored in databases. Others point out that the federal and state privacy laws and penalties that apply to crime labs are stringent far more stringent than the rules governing private entities that collect blood and saliva for medical or insurance purposes” (Berson, 2009).
Although some states limit preconviction DNA collection to violent offenses or sex crimes, other states include all felonies, and some extend the requirement to misdemeanors as well. States’ legislation requiring preconviction DNA collection varies. Variations include the types of crimes for which samples are collected, applicability of the law to juveniles and procedures for deleting profiles. Some state laws have faced Fourth Amendment challenges in court. “The Fourth Amendment ensures that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized” (The DNA Act, 2015). This is where the government will continue to have problems, most American’s live by the Amendments that the United States was founded upon. The Amendments were put in place to give the government limits and when it comes to mandating DNA the government appears to have reached its limits.
In conclusion, the government and law enforcement have many challenges to face and overcome in the new age of technology. Technology also makes it easier for criminals from around the globe to connect and partner with each other to pull off financial frauds, and the anonymity of the web can make it more challenging to locate and stop online perpetrators. There are legal obstacles as well as ethical obstacles that the government and law enforcement must overcome. At every corner there is a potential for a crime to happen whether it is a person’s credit card, a computer, a bank, a smart phone or even a car. Cybercrime is a growing field and one that is hard to combat with all the technology. The problem the government is facing is what is considered too invasive and what is going too far to protect our nation?
Berson, S. (2009). Debating DNA Collection. Retrieved from http://www.nij.gov/journals/264/pages/debating-DNA.aspx Biometric Security Technology. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.peterindia.net/BiometricsView.html Brown, K. (2010). The Future of Cybercrime Detection & Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.pctools.com/security-news/future-cybercrime-prevention/ De Chant, T. (2013). The Boring and Exciting World of Biometrics. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/tech/biometrics-and-the-future-of-identification/ Hirschfeld Davis, J. (2015). Obama Calls for New Laws to Bolster Cybersecurity. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/14/us/obama-to-announce-new-cyberattack-protections.html?_r=0 The DNA Act. (2015). Retrieved from