Technological advancement is something that has been a feature of western culture over the last two decades, and is considered as a concept that has been largely beneficial to society. However, the processes of change and progression also draw negative reaction and perception from those who are left in its wake, especially where it unfolds at a frenetic pace or its innovations become vulnerable to abuse by the criminally minded factions of society.
This week, law enforcement bodies reported that these advances in communications and technological interaction were impeding their ability to conduct wiretaps, in addition to repeating existing concerns over the enhanced nature of internet and computer based crime. In an address to Congress, they suggested that all new telephone, computer and wireless systems should be designed to allow easy and lawful access for police officials and representatives.
An Affront to Progress?
While the police are decidedly serious in their call to the state, notes of caution have been sounded by industry experts and affiliated parties. It has been suggested that the implementation of design restrictions will only serve to stifle innovation and limit the effectiveness of US based technological companies within the global market. In addition to this, there is a concern that specifically engineered designs would be increasingly vulnerable to the wiles of hackers, criminals and international terrorists.
The issue has emerged as law enforcement bodies have found it increasingly difficult to implement quick and effective wiretaps to suit the developing range of mobile devices, including Blackberry’s, iPads and Androids. The problem is further complicated by the composition of social media and networking sites, which make it challenging for police representatives to access and trace their content. These instances have prompted much discussion on the concept of remote computer orientated crime, and highlighted the need to find a balance between technological enhancement and national security.
This is a serious concern, especially as a consequence of the online age is an increased amount of Internet fraud and identity theft crime. Subsequently, advancements that have been made for the benefit of society have fallen vulnerable to the machinations of technologically aware criminals, and ultimately been used to defraud individuals and corporations out of millions of dollars. This is why the need for security is paramount, and why police bodies must be able to keep pace and regulate the nature of online activity.
An Issue of National Security
Even taking into account domestic concerns, the balance between progression and individual safety is extremely significant, but its importance becomes intensified when you consider the further implications of international and global terrorism. In this instance, online communication and remote interaction become crucial tools in both planning and implementing crimes of terror, which means that the online evolution becomes a vehicle for organized anarchy and malevolence.
It is the changing landscape of technological evolution and national security that has forced law enforcement bodies to raise their concerns with the government. For instance, in 1994 a law was passed to command telephone companies to build in the facility for interception and wire tapping, as a reaction the advancing nature of telecommunication. However, this bill did not take into account the then burgeoning entity of Internet communication, which has since grown out of all proportion and destroyed the relevance of any existing legislation.
Nor was it conceived to consider the changing nature of the global political climate and subsequent acts of terrorism, which have removed the focus from domestic security threats to those further afield. As the concept of terrorism is very much a global consideration, the internet and online resources have emerged as the most effective way to perpetrate and combat its crimes, meaning that enhanced monitoring by federal agencies becomes crucial in maintaining the security of the US.
Is Safety More Important than Commercial Prosperity?
While various supporters of technological progression will highlight the fact that impeding future designs is both an affront to the freedom of trade and commercial interests, it should be remembered that the security of an entire nation and its people is at stake. Surely a price cannot be placed on the well being of US citizens and their children, especially in an age where society is so vulnerable to the advanced arts of remote interaction and online manipulation.
Whether you consider the global threat of terrorism, or the risk to
children at the hands of Internet chat room sex offenders, there can be no doubt that these concerns are the consequence of a fast moving technological advancement, and one that has been abused by self serving criminal elements. Regardless of its benefits and the potential restrictions to design and trade, the government has a duty to protect its citizens from domestic and international threats to their safety.