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Crime Control in the Digital Age: An exploration of Human Rights Implications

NCJ Number
International Journal of Cyber Criminology Volume: 1 Issue: 2 Dated: 2007 Pages: 167-179
Russell G. Smith
Date Published
13 pages
This paper argues that policymakers have sometimes been attracted by the efficiency of the technology of the digital age without recognizing or respecting the need to guard against infringements of traditional human rights.
Information and communications technologies (ICT) have aided crime-control specialists in using encryption to ensure that data are held securely, neural networks to detect financial crime, crime biometric systems to identify suspects, hard-drive imaging to secure data from alteration or destruction, sharing of data held in official databases to identify suspects and risks, electronic courtrooms to present evidence clearly, and electronic monitoring of offending to enhance surveillance during home detention. This paper identifies ways that ICT can infringe on the following domains of human rights set forth in national and international conventions and legislation: human freedom and dignity; freedom from discrimination; freedom of thought and expression; right to bodily security and freedom from inhumane punishments; right to a fair trial, presumption of innocence, and freedom from self-incrimination; right to own property and protect intellectual property; right to privacy; right to life; and the right to participate in government and vote. The author advises that the prevention of human rights infringements in the digital age depends on legislatures ensuring that new legislation complies with current international and local normative instruments that specify human rights. In addition, the private sector could help prevent abuses by designing new technologies that prevent or minimize potential human rights abuses. Further, the development of technologies that protect and enhance human rights could ensure that some of the more egregious developments in the digital age are avoided. 16 references