Criminals thrive on data abundance - here's how we'll catch them.

Author:Duguin, Stephane
 
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Byline: Stephane Duguin

As technology rapidly progresses, doomsday stories emerge just as quickly. Not a day passes without some prophecy about how technology will drive us to the depths of darkly-anonymized-crypto-fake-and-artificially-intelligent-blockchain-based mayhem.

Dissident voices, however, are trying to spread alternative messages. In the past century, increasingly efficient technology and the advancement of knowledge have addressed global challenges including global poverty, deaths from violent crime, childhood mortality, preventable diseases and human life expectancy - at a scale never seen before.

For obvious reasons, such breakthroughs can be considered among humanity's greatest achievements; yet we also see how technology facilitates online disinformation, global cyberattacks and unprecedented terrorist media campaigns inspiring thousands of would-be terrorists.

"Technology is a force that takes what was once scarce and makes it abundant," write Peter Diamantis and Steven Kotler in Abundance: The Future is Better than You Think. Truly, this is the cornerstone of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. But in a world of finite resources, when something becomes "abundant", it is often at the expense of something else that becomes scarce.

The global criminal community vastly benefits from the exponential rise of technology and the promises of this revolution. Does the abundance of technology, by fuelling new criminal models, create scarcities in law enforcement capabilities? Elsewhere, does the abundance of data make information scarce? Does the multiplication of attention-mining interfaces make privacy scarce? Does the wide-scale adoption of end-to-end encryption and zero-knowledge models make attribution scarce? Does the proliferation of online fakes and massive disinformation make evidence scarce? Does the globalization of real-time communication make jurisdiction scarce?

All in all, does the abundance of technology create scarcities or opportunities for law enforcement?

Scarcity of veracity, abundance of fakes

As reported by Europol, the past decade has seen an explosion of data available to law enforcement, affecting the capacity of security services to comprehend and analyse this data at speed and scale. But the issue is no longer about finding the needle in the haystack; now, the challenge is to find the needle disguised as hay.

Trust in data is an essential condition of police and legal procedures. If we cannot evaluate the...

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