"Whether you are a private investigator, a member of a law enforcement agency or just an every day busybody who likes to know what is really going on next door (or even your own household), why not consider purchasing some cheap and easy to use covert surveillance equipment"... So the tale goes.

Watch this:

The line between what does and does not constitute a form of "cybercrime" is now blurring. We all understand traditional forms of cybercrime well (e.g. identity theft, credit card fraud, cyberstalking) but what about when those who are entrusted with upholding the law find themselves bordering on breaking the very laws they are trying to protect?

Law enforcement agencies (LEAs) are finding themselves in increasingly complex predicaments when using high-tech equipment. How is data captured and transferred to a storage area network. How long is the content stored for? Who has access? What logs are taken and audits on the stored communications, etc?  LEAs can no longer safely claim that because they are doing the "filming", the "listening", the "watching", the "tracking", the "tracing" that they are not in any way in breach of the law.

At the same time, LEAs are attempting to catch criminals who use this type of covert surveillance equipment to commit cybercrimes such as the creation of child pornography and the like. It is a dilemma of sorts with no easy solutions.


Next session I will be teaching LEGL952 titled "Cybercrime" for the Centre of Transnational Crime Prevention in the Faculty of Law at the University of Wollongong and will be challenging students to think about the law, new innovations and the social implications of using covert surveillance equipment for personal use, use by a private company (such as a personal investigator), use by law enforcement personnel.

Questions will be posed directly about the power of legislation in this high-tech age- Privacy Act, Surveillance Device Act, and Telecommunications Interception Act etc. For example, is the use of covert surveillance devices by community members legal? Is it unethical to spy on others to the degree that we can now track their every move or pay someone else to do it?

I personally disagree with the stance taken by some that claim that what we are doing today with this new gadgetry is the same as following someone down the street and observing them as we have done for centuries... there is something sinister about tracking an innocent person 24x7 and having up to the minute longitude and latitude information about where they have been geographically...

I am particularly concerned with the fabrication of data known in legal terms as "impairment". Some might think that it will be a far-fetched scenario to claim that people will be breaking into records in the future to change location data but all these things are possible. "Cybercrimes" will increasingly become more and more sophisticated as time goes on.

On October 31st 2011/ 1 November 2011 we will be running the 6th Workshop on the Social Implications of National Security at the University of Wollongong. Speakers from industry, academia and government are welcome to attend- more details coming out soon. If you are interested in delivering a paper, please get in touch with me directly at katina@uow.edu.au.