Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Role of ISPs in the Investigation of Cybercrime

Ian Kerr and Daphne Gilbert have an excellent paper,The Role of ISPs in the Investigation of Cybercrime, available at ssrn. They argue that the moves to hardwire ISPs into the law enforcement apparatus drastically alters the relationship between these companies and their customers; and that safeguards must therefore be built into this process of turning commercial organisations into agents of the state, which, whilst faciltating law enforcement, will also protect personal privacy.

It is a feature of modern network technologies that they facilitate the kind of communications between criminals that law enforcement authorities didn't have to deal with previously. It is therefore encumbent upon society to find ways and to develop processes which will help those authorities to combat crimes facilitated by the use of these new technologies.

It is also a feature of the technologies that they facilitate the kind of mass surveillance (or at least mass data gathering) that was not previously possible. So again, just as Kerr and Gilbert argue, we are faced with challenges in building safeguards into the processes that protect the core of those aspects of personal privacy that are fundamental both to maintaining personal dignity and a healthy society.

To the degree that these developments make us think hard as a society about how we are going to build and regulate these technologies that can only be positive. My concern is that we are mostly too busy and distracted to think about it. That's another reason why I've been writing my book.

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