Information technologies and organized crime
The criminal justice system continues to be besieged as the society is questioning the ultimate solution to the increased crime rates in the world today. Despite the fact that, prisons have been overcrowded with criminal of all categories, the crime rates have seemed to be also on the increase (Navarro, 2007).
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For this reason, the widespread question is, can the current trends in technology bring necessary changes in fighting crime? The fact is that, emergence of information technology has contributed to increase in crime rates but however, it has also enabled the criminal justice to fight against crime in a big way.
In this era of globalization, investigation of the criminal activities and elaborative discovery of the happenings to this topic of crime is very hard without integration of the scientific and technological phenomenon and the general application of information technology.
There are three major issues in the assessment of the crime and technology which will form the basis of our argument in this research paper; the level of information technology that is used by the law enforcement officers in reducing crime, the technology that is being used by the criminals gangs, and the level of control or monitoring administered to the use of technology such as computer by the criminals (Martin, 2005).
It is no doubt that information technology is a influencing factor or tool leading to more rampant criminal activities although on the other hand it has also created a good avenue that is being used as a tool of fighting all criminal activities across the globe. For a broader understanding, we shall discuss how information technology has contributed to increase in crime while on the other hand, we shall also review how information technology has spear headed the fight against crime.
Information technology as a tool that facilitates in the fight against crime
Since the emergence of information technology, the advanced technology has served as a tool of enforcing the law by enhancing security measures through producing of electronic cards, developing of databases, generation of automated data cards used for banks transactions, an elaborative search engine for internal and external affairs and hence ensuring that criminals do not get an easy access to such system especially to institutions such as the bank which needs high level of security( Maguire, Morgan, and Reiner, 2007).
Through the high level of technological and changes, there has been a lot of progress that enables flexible ways to trace or monitor different activities executed by different people across the globe. Such case can be explained by observing the well developed FBI system that enables investigative officers to monitor activities of different criminals communities by having a first hand experience of how information between various sources are being exchanged and hence giving the FBI department an opportunity to detect any suspicious activities.
Government security officers with advanced information technology usually use technology to track down criminal by use of special soft wares that can be able to interpret information acquired from the various sources of mass media such as the cable TV and radio; information acquired voice information is then translated into text message which enables detecting voice and speech sounds of the different people.
Through such technology, the officers are able to detect notorious criminal gangs such as terrorist groups among others (Department of defense, 2010).
Additionally, the federal officers are also able to use information technology to read codified information from different systems by using special software and hence they are in a position to be ahead of the criminals since through such ways, they are able to get informed of planned crimes.
A good example of such software’s is the “magic Lantern” (Department of defense, 2010) which sends viruses to the suspected criminals through emails and when the targeted user opens the particular email, the software becomes active and then it does create a communication network between the FBI server computer and the suspect’s computer (Department of defense, 2010).
Although, this technology has been criticized as infringement of personal privacy, the officers argue that the constitution grants such federal officer the right to carry investigation in such ways.
Another technological change that fights criminal activities is the use of cell phones gadgets as an alert system. Today, the are thousands cases of motor car theft, burglary cases among other mischief’s in the society, but with the use of information technology a car owner or residence owner can be able to get live alerts from their cell phones about any suspicious activity. Such instance can be demonstrated by the use of phone to track a stolen car.
Apart from the use of a phone as technology to curb car theft cases, many information technology companies have emerged resulting to a drastic reduction of the car theft cases. Mostly, the birth of tracker alarms has proved to be very efficient in fighting crime such as car vehicle theft.
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Today, cars are installed with security alarms which become sensitive once the car has been ignited using another key apart from the original key. When this happens, the alarm will alert the owner company who are able to stop the car’s engine by use of codes and once the car engine has been stopped, the company is also able to locate the position of the car by use of satellite using advanced technology (Department of defense, 2010).
With the introduction of social network such as face book, my space, twitter among others, the war against crime has had a big boost. In the turn of 21st century, the information technology has greatly improved and revolutionized to an extent that it has become very basic in diverse ways, one such instance is the way people are using the information technology to communicate.
Among the many social networks is the face-book community that has become very popular having millions of followers across the planet. When you accept a friend request in your face-book account, it is more likely you just accept an FBI officer as your new face-book friend. Today, the investigative officers are using the numerous social networks to carry out inquiries on criminal activities, track suspects around the globe.
With the emergence of social network such as face-book, the fight against crime has become easier since it is easy to note suspects by checking status updates, comments and other relevant information on their walls (Nasaw, 2010). Apart from this, identification has also become easier especially that people usually upload their photos in their accounts and hence making such photos to be accessible by the public (Nasaw, 2010).
In US the FBI agents have relied very much on the social networks in trucking criminal by accessing a newly edited section known as “utility in criminal cases” (Nasaw, 2010). In this particular section, the officers can be to scan suspect’s profiles in a progress to ascertain ones intention, position the suspect’s location, or even indentify his partners (Nasaw, 2010).
Although, the policy of face book account does not allow users to create fake accounts, the government investigative department has been given the exclusive right to develop such accounts which facilitates them to work as undercover agents.
Unlike in the past when police used to patrol the streets, today’s era of advanced information technology has enabled police patrolling to be easier and hence the fight against crime has moved to a whole new level. With the use of information technology, police officer do not have to patrol streets any more, instead the use of information technology such as use of video camera is the best alternative (Newburn, 2007).
Police department have utilized the information technology and they are using high quality video cameras which are usually planted at the high poles in those areas that are prone to high crime. With such cameras, the investigative officers can be able to have a first hand experience of what is happening on the ground since there is a communication network from the camera to a computer which has been installed in a surveillance vehicle or in the office.
On the other hand, video camera installed at the high poles would at all times enable the correspondents to observe happenings at a particular area before sending the police and other officers for action. For instance, if an accident happens, the surveillance police are able to take a prior-action.
Most importantly, the video camera can also be used as a source of evidence in the court in indentifying criminals. A good example where a surveillance camera can be used in court as an identification tool is when a video camera is installed on the streets, offices and out side a bank where it is used to indentify bank robbers or snatchers and it is usually presented to the court as a source of evidence which has helped many times (Martin, 2005).
According to police department, the use of surveillance camera as an investigative tool has helped in solving many issues and most importantly it has enhanced efficiency in the police department (Osborn, 2008).The officer do not really need to be at the place of crime , instead a single officer can be able to monitor more than two locations from an office where he is just next to a surveillance computer.
Additionally, the video camera have also enabled the fight against crime to move to another level since the patrol officer can also be able to view criminal activities happening in real time such as car theft scenarios and bank robbery cases which are very common (Osborn, 2008). This technology of surveillance camera is very efficient and it helps in reducing cost, saving time, and very importantly, it acts as an instrument to fight crime.
Information technology has also provided a big boost in fighting crime especially with the emergency of fingerprint technology. The new technology has been very effective in the fight against crime and a good example is the revolutionary technique of taking fingerprints which makes it practically not possible for any offender to lay the blame on others as the evidence is quite clear.
The recent technology also known as “wipe-proof fingerprinting system” (Koenig, 2011) is more efficient because it gives a much vivid image of the curls on the finger and therefore becoming more reliable than ever before.
The new technology is widely used by detectives and it is said to more steadfast than the presiding techniques; the new technology is based on special dust constituent parts known as nanoparticles (Koenig, 2011). Nanoparticle is sticky and this particular characteristic enables it to be used efficiently by detectives who have also clarified that it has made their work much easier compared to the past because with the use of nanoparticles, it is easier to obtain result faster and hence saving time and cost as well (Koenig, 2011).
Information technology as a tool of crime
Hacking, cybercrime, theft, blackmailing, cyber bully, cyber stalking among others are among the most common types of crime that have been more pronounced with the emergence of the information technology especially at the dawn of the 21st century. Although the concept of globalization and technological changes has been attributed to positive development in many ways, it is also quite clear that, the same advancement information technology has also contributed to growth of criminal network and hence resulting to rise in the rate of crime.
Modernization and use of the information technology has enabled development in communication system and therefore criminal allies are also able to have an established communication network that in deed allows coordination of criminal activities between criminals across the planet.
For instance, in regard to the communication system, the masterminds criminal do not have to sit in a conference room with other criminals in order to execute a plan or plot for a crime, what happens today is that, the masterminds criminals can always make a perfect plan on how to carry out a certain criminal activity such as a robbery activity and then call, send short messages or even send emails contains instructions to all other partners on the ground who after receiving the information will execute the “job” as directed.
One such case includes that of the modern banking system. The modern banking business uses diverse ways of computing methods and information technology, allows the breaching of various bank transactions and through this electronic technique, the criminals can be able to access other people’s account where they can also be able to embezzle large amounts of money avoid taxations and even make legal transaction by using money acquired in the most illegal ways since most criminal posses the modern technology and they also have expert computer hackers (Lilley, 2006).
The other problem which is also a major challenge to the current security system is the issue of “computer criminality” that is growing at a rapid rate facilitating growth of criminal communities (Koenig, 2011). According to various research carried across US, the newly released report clearly indicates that many firms in US are facing the crisis of being attacked with the growing number of computer hackers increasing every day.
The report shows that in the 2002 there were more than eighty thousand cases of attackers hacking into companies system and stealing most vital information. In fact, after the release of this report, the FBI experts made a list of top hackers and gangsters which clearly proved beyond doubt that the hackers had increased across the world over time (Rist, 2002).
Computer hackers have increased because the hacker’s main objective is to make profit which is why they target banks, firms and commercial companies.
Besides, hackers are also part of the world-wide terrorist group who are believed to be using the information technology to hack their indentified targets such as department of military defense and so forth. Moreover, hackers have done more damage to the general public where people have been robbed money from their accounts especially those people who use the master and visa cards systems are among the most vulnerable groups.
Apart from this, many other crimes are committed by use of information technology, for instance, certain level of technology allows production and easy distribution of pornography films. A good example in this case is that, the criminals will use some special kind of computer software that are able to alter images and then make such images to appear as if in a sexual context.
On the other hand, if the children are not actually there, the modern software are also able to convert adult images to appear like children images through a process known as “de-aging” (Martin, 2005). In fact, with the emergence of the animations and carton technology, child pornography may be easy to distribute and criminals have been renowned to use steganography as a cover up in order to distribute child pornographic films in a less suspicious manner (Rist, 2002).
The emergence of Information technology also facilitates effective and rapid distribution of communication by criminals. Through information technology, criminal are able to enjoy safe and anonymous speedy communication especially by use of modern customized software, wireless gadgets, mobile phones and anonymous email senders whose function is to distribute emails and short text messages without revealing the sender origin (Galeotti, 2005).
Through such technology, the criminals are able to execute various criminal activities such as drug trafficking with minimal chances of detection which also ensures that there are slim chances of tracing the criminals.
Information technology can also slow down the fight against crime where organized criminal groups may utilize the technology to instill fear or impose threats to community members and other opposing groups against reporting incidence of crime at any given level.
For instance, such threats are usually passed to the target party through emails, cell phones, internet among other Medias of communication.
In most cases, threats are passed through messages and chats that are directed to an individual or group indicating particular information. The organized crime instills fear in a very effective way because at most times the sender will use safe and anonymous message system that does not indicate origin of the message making it hard to trace the sender at all time (Jewkes and Yar, 2010).
The modern information technologies can be the basis of organized crime in our school today. With the increase of cyber bully, pupils are having situations to deal with stress every day which can be noticed every time a pupil uses his computer. Most times when they use their computers, they get irritating emails, bad images, vulgar short messages from their friends which might be a cause of stress and frustration leading to withdrawal behavior such as depression and loneliness (Martin, 2005).
On the other hand, theft cases have also increased in our school because of stylish life style where some student comes to school with flashy gadgets such as iPods, cell phones and laptops. But since some student can not afford to buy such stylish gadgets, they only opt to still from their friends resulting to crime that has been reported to be on the increase at our schools today.
Additionally, the emergence of information technology has also led to appearance of negative behavior resulting to increased crime rates such as cyber stalking (Martin, 2005). Cyber stalking is the use of internet applications such as email to become a nuisance, to threaten individual or group of people which mainly includes harassing, sending irritating messages, monitoring other peoples activities, causing severe damage to information and so on (Roddel, 2010). Such behavior is illegal and is not accepted by the constitution.
In conclusion, it is reasonably clear that the emergence of information technology has had both negative and positive impact to issues of crime in the society today. Most importantly, we have seen that the information technology has been very effective in the fight against crime and there offering the humanity a hope for a better future (Reuter, 1983).
The opinion is that, all involved stakeholders should work together in fighting this group of intellectual criminals to help build our society in a positive way. On the other hand, more research should be conducted in order to discover how such criminal are making the use of information technology to torment the society. Once more discover is made, then the security department could easily use such information against the criminals and therefore tighten the war against crime for social change.
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