Future Criminology Essay
The advancements in technology have lead law enforcement officers to the rescue of an abducted child. Couple of decades ago law enforcement agencies did not have the technical resources such as the amber alert system as they do today. Technology has enables the United States of America to make positive changes in socialization of American citizens. Technology has also assisted the United States in preventing domestic terrorism. Law enforcement agencies have spent billions of dollars on technical logical equipment to aid in the defense of the country. Law enforcement agencies place heavy emphasis on advancing communication. As law enforcement officials try to improve communication through technology, criminals are advancing in cybercrimes. Many identity thefts are committed to the internet; scammers employ phishing techniques to gather personal information from people rather than criminals who rob mail boxes in order to gather personal information.
As technology advances criminals adapt as well. This paper will display the positive aspect of future crime fighting as well as highlight the negative aspects. The direction of crime fighting has already been displayed by law enforcement agencies who are currently utilizing advanced technology. Law enforcement agencies have shifted focus on to social networks that have no limitations. Cybercrime has become very common in the American culture. In modern everyday life people utilize some source of technical logical communication device, which leaves the door open to advanced criminals. Cybercriminals posses the abilities to disassemble someone’s life, through personal information stored on communication devices. Cyber criminals usually search for social security numbers, names, birthdays, bank account numbers, and pin numbers. The perceptions of cybercrimes are considered to be an evolution of combined advancements in technology as well as identity theft, which has spread throughout the world. Cybercrime victimizers’, target people who are less knowledgeable to the advancements of technology. Before the internet was created identity theft was as simple as stealing personal mail, and rummaging through trash cans. Cybercrime enables advanced criminals to make a fast profit with less chances of being caught.
Computer hackers have the ability to hack prohibited information such as bank servers, with the overall goal of achieving large amounts of money. Online scams such as phishing for personal information have become the trend among advancing criminals. Cybercriminals are typically known for thievery of personal data while trying to achieve a financial gain. Cybercriminals have designed websites that appear to be legitimate, but actually is quite the opposite. Cybercriminals have been gathering personal information through fake server windows with surveys, or something that would require all your personal information. According to National Crime Prevention, “An information broker, Choicepoint Inc., announced that an identity thief had hacked into their database and gained access to hundreds of thousands of documents. Some stolen information included full names, social security numbers, home addresses and credit reports (NCP, 2011).”
A key to fighting off these advanced online crimes is awareness. One must be aware that the Internet is a powerful instrument and is used in many unscrupulous ways. Police agents currently devote an entire unit toward dealing with cybercrime. Private Citizens must also be proactive when dealing with their identity. For example, be aware of illegitimate companies, which wait for someone to provide his or her personal information. It is always a good idea to install security on computers that scan for hackers and other odd activity. Most important, be cautious when providing personal information to anyone on the Internet. The world we live in evolved to the point that we cannot assume an individual is trustworthy. That may be a sad reality, but taken very seriously. Cyber-criminals and their actions will certainly create social policy implications. For example, crime fighting may soon resemble that of a movie production. Crimes altogether become more technologically advanced, while cyber-crimes begin to resemble crimes from a sci-fi atmosphere. According to Reyes, a team of researchers from Santa Clara University are developing predictive policing software (Reyes, 2011).
Essentially, the high-tech software design is used to stop crime before it occurs. The high-tech software allows advancement and the upper hand on the criminal. The software also allows law enforcement to pinpoint a precise area where speculated crimes may occur. The crime is isolated or completely stopped before the damage begins. The software updates daily and provides current data, allowing police forces to position themselves before any illegal activity begins. This may sound like an innovative tool that brings only a positive element, however, are these tools a way to cyber-profile individuals and allow law enforcement to make illogical assumptions based on probability? One must be aware that individuals are innocent until proven guilty, not innocent unless they meet a mathematical formula. The advancement in specific crime fighting methods is vital to the changing methods of criminal activity.
Criminals are always looking for a ways to benefit themselves, so law enforcement agencies must shift to advance policing in order to stay a step ahead of criminal offenders. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a genetic material of a cell’s nucleus, which is a collection program that has become a great precision tool for law enforcement agencies to identify an alleged perpetrator or an alleged victim. The use of the DNA database is well known by society, because of the popular television shows such as Crime Scene Investigators (CSI), and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), which have provided society with examples as to how the DNA data base is utilized. The DNA data base is simply a tool to identify alleged criminals and or victims. According to forensic specialist, “The database may include profiles of suspects awaiting trial, people arrested, convicted offenders and identifying unknown remains and even members of law enforcement (Schmalleger, 2012)”.
Biometrics is the science of analyzing biological data such as fingerprints, DNA, voice pattern recognition, retina scans and facial recognition programs for the purpose of human identification. It is quickly becoming the most accurate means to identify individuals. A typical biometric scanner consists of a scanning device, software that puts the scanned info into digital form and compares it against a database (NPR, 2013). Biometrics started back in China in the 14th century. They used ink to stamp young children’s palms and footprints on paper for identification purposes. In most of the world until the late 19th century, identifying a person relied upon a person’s memory or the use of crude drawings. In about 1890 a system was used that relied on certain body measurements to identify criminals. This did not work very well as it was discovered that it was not uncommon for several persons to have the same measurements. This system was replaced by Richard Edward Henry of Scotland Yard, whose fingerprint system provided a very accurate method of identification (Schmallager, 2012).
The next generation of smart phones from the Apple Corporation has a new operating system that moves biometric science into the consumer market. This new system uses a fingerprint scan technology to allow only the authorized user to operate it. Nowadays consumer’s whole lives are contained on phones including personal information, financial and credit information and addresses. Apple purchased a high-tech company named Authentec which specializes in fingerprint technology to develop this technology. This technology along with iris scan programs will surely have great impact on law enforcement agencies such as: who has access to sensitive areas, safes, thumb drives or documents. This may lead to limiting access to firearms and maybe even who can fire a specific weapon (CBC News, 2013).
Another new biometric technology that is being used in stores is facial recognition programs. Some upscale stores use these to recognize wealthy or famous customers as they enter a store and relay this to store employees. This program recognizes a specific person entering a store and compares it against a database of celebrities, sports stars and wealthy customers. It also gives the buying histories, clothing sizes and potential new products they may want to the sales persons. This program is strictly voluntary by most stores as the potential VIP customers want to save time or just be pampered. New technology allows two dimensional images to be converted to three dimensional that can make almost foolproof identifications. This technology is being used by agencies in several cities in various ways to passively monitor the public for wanted individuals. Law enforcement has adopted these methods for their own use. It appears that in some cases they are letting the private sector engineer these technologies then apply them for their own use (CBC News, 2013).
Law enforcement needs to stay ahead of these new biometric technologies as criminals are now working on ways to defeat some of these technologies. One way criminals use to obtain a person’s fingerprints is off of a glass surface to gain access to computers or other fingerprint access systems. Another one is creative ways to disguise your face from facial recognition programs (CBC News, 2013). Computer crimes have risen dramatically in recent years. These are usually referred to as cybercrime. Spyware is most often used to gain access to information contained on a computer or computer system. Spyware is defined as software that sends information from a computer to a third party without consent of the owner that is unwanted, uninvited or annoying. This can come with free software, file sharing applications or even games. Just visiting certain websites, also called drive-by, can install this software without your knowledge. Spyware is designed to find out what a person prefers buys and what they search for on the internet and allow its authors to make money from this information or possibly gain sensitive data from law enforcement or military computers (CBC News, 2013).
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 and amended in the 2002 Patriot Act define computer espionage, trespassing and stealing information. These acts say it is a crime to knowingly counterfeit a device that allows unauthorized access to computer or telecommunication system, receive payments from persons with the intent to commit fraud or using illegally obtained credit card numbers (CBC, 2013). The Department of Homeland Security is working on new programs and having success in countermeasures for cybercrimes. In 2011 they prevented $1.5 billion in business losses and made 72 arrests for people involved in sexual abuse of children on the internet. Police agencies have been reluctant in the past to combat cybercrime as it is expensive and time consuming to investigate but some are now getting involved in identity theft, child molesting using the internet to gain access to children and credit card fraud (DHS, 2013).
Mandatory DNA collection programs exist in all 50 states in one form or another. Most have laws mandating DNA collection for certain felony convictions and some for juvenile arrests. Some even allow collections prior to convictions as in California. California is being challenged in court by lawsuits by the ACLU. They feel that innocent persons are being forced to provide DNA samples. There is a DNA database called CODIS where agencies can browse data to identify suspects in crimes. This system allows agencies to positively identify or eliminate suspects (Legal Match, 2013). Unfortunately, the reason that law enforcement evolves is often due to an unforeseen tragedy.
For example, after the 9/11 tragedy the “Homeland Security Advisory System” was introduced. It was a color-coded system that communicated a “terrorist threat level to federal and local agencies and throughout communities. The system was introduced in 2002 by Security Chief Tom Ridge (Reclaim Democracy, 2011). As is often the case when such controversial initiatives are brought forth, mixed views are common. Every U.S. citizen maintained a heightened sense of awareness and fear in regard to terrorism. In that sense, this initiative allowed for both federal and local agencies to work together toward their goal of eliminating terrorist threats, and allowed a roadmap for daily operations. Threat levels were assigned to each suspect and federal agencies would act depending upon the level of the individual threat by implementing protective measures. Obviously, advocates of this plan argue that it leads to a safer environment because security agencies are adequately informed. However, one must also consider if these measures protect citizens or instill fear in them.
One cannot argue that technology and skill levels have not evolved. However, just because the technology and skill exists, does that mean that society is better when they are put into action? One could argue that it is arbitrary to label individuals based on a color code, what does it take for them to move to the next category? One must also be advised that the individuals in charge of determining the color coding system may have had their own political agenda. For example, raising the terror threat level to extreme on the one-year anniversary of 9/11 may have been necessary, but may have been a political move to gain confidence of the public? Some critics argue the system drummed up support for wars and additional federal powers. As security technology continues to evolve one document must not be overlooked, The Security Enhancement Act. While the document design was to improve homeland security and provide comfort to the citizenry, its consequences raise many questions.
The act revoked portions of the Freedom of Information Act: in which society posses the right to achieve information pertaining to a friend or family member who is detained by the federal government for any action that can be considered to be terrorism. The American government can mandate whether or not they think citizens deserve information. Also, an individual could lose their citizenship upon “participating in or providing material support to a terrorist” (Reclaim Democracy, 2011). A vital element of this act is that it would allow the government to force citizens to submit to DNA samples if they are a suspected terrorist. Evolving technology provides a wealth of knowledge and understanding in regard to halting criminal activity. It provides methods that allow for quick response and action and can lead to a safer environment for people. However, one must consider the difference between technological advances and invasion of privacy.
There is little doubt that getting a mouth swab for a DNA sample is an effective method but it is certainly not perfect. It would be foolish not to consider that many DNA samples taint easily by not following procedures. This must be considered because imperfect humans are collecting the data. Also, because of the large amount of samples tested, at what point does the sample become outdated and need resubmission. If an individual submitted to an initial test, is it constitutional or ethical to mandate that they retest? There are constitutional amendments that are discussed and not disregarded because our nation suffered a tragedy. That tragedy must not be forgotten, but it is ill-advised to use one event as a predictor of all future events. That is why law enforcement must be careful when they seek to predict crime before it occurs.
If the crime does not occur taxpayer funds go to waste. There is a fine line between protecting society and intruding upon its citizens. There must be awareness that while technology has advanced and aided society, the tests are still administered by humans who may serve his or her own needs over that of society. No matter how far individuals evolve technologically, society must proceed with caution because society may never be able to measure the intent of those operating the equipment. Evolving technology advancements and the future of crime fighting does not come without a fight. There are many individuals who question the intent of ethics of using proactive crime fighting methods. For instance, some individuals may feel that their rights are violated with the use of DNA, the government having access to personal information, and wide databases of information that have the chance of being hacked.
It is not the intent of the government to have technology used against society; however, it is possible. Different groups and organizations claim that the use of advanced technology is just the beginning of a new conspiracy act. It is not only the concerned citizens of the United States who struggle with the openness of private information but also international groups as well as policy makers. It is thought that as technology advances policymakers will have to go the extra step to be proactive in the different inventions and programs to cheat or confuse technological advancements. According to Schmalleger (2012) “Opposing ideological lines have divided our efforts to develop comprehensive anticrime programs. Deep fissures in our social fabric have contributed to conflicting attitudes about crime and its control.” Countries that pride themselves in advanced technology, feared by other nations. Just as the Bush administrations proved, technological warfare is on the brink of mass destructive devices (National Crime Prevention Council, 2012).
While many individuals use technology as a way to prevent crime, some countries may ultimately use technology for total destruction. Whether society is fighting cybercrimes, using technology to fight future crimes, using technological advancements to predict crime, or allowing technology to lead the efforts of policymakers, technology has proved to be an advancement that does not come without deficits. Technology can make or break a country, but it can also divide nations and leave room for doubt. As technology advances, the prevention of crimes must also advance. It is not enough to assume that technological programs and breakthroughs will be enough to control crime.
Crime control taken seriously and proactive steps taken to keep each breakthrough safe and ethical will wreak many benefits. In conclusion, law enforcement agencies are pointing in the positive direction for combating future crimes. The advancement of technological equipment in law enforcement is designed to enhance communication in aspects of imagery, and audio. Law enforcement agencies are already utilizing advanced imagery to resurrect a crime scene. The resurrection of a crime scene could possibly yield elaborate information leading to the apprehension of the offender. The overall perception in law enforcement will continue to be the same philosophy to apprehend alleged criminals. Technology aids local law enforcement officials in community policing, with surveillance placed in social common areas in aspiration to deter crime; too also act as a witness to committed crimes in the radius view of the camera. Law enforcement agencies will continue to strive for improvements in combating crime.
CBC News, (2013). New Apple Iphone Pushes Biometrics into the Mainstream. Retrieved from:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/new-apple-iphone-pushes-biometrics-into-the-mainstream-1.1702041 Department of Homeland Security, (2013). Combating Cyber-Crime. Retrieved from: http://www.dhs.gov/combat-cyber-crime
Legal Match, (2013). Mandatory DNA Sampling. Retrieved from: