Criminology, Technology, and Privacy

Technology has had many important effects on the criminal justice system, giving lawbreakers more opportunities, giving the system new tools to increase their efficiency and effectiveness, and changing our concepts of privacy. Many technological offenses are really street crimes that use technology to facilitate their commission. Crime is partly responsible for the advancement of technology, as many technological developments originally designed to control crime have led to advances in other areas as well, including information technology. One of the main consequences the Internet has had for traditional criminal justice is its effect on jurisdiction.

The use of a technological network to break the law predates the Internet, but early offenders tended to break the law in pursuit of knowledge rather than money. Today, more computer and network crime is pursued for profit and has much in common with street crime in terms of offender intent.

Various programs and methods are used to break the law via computer. Many of the offenses committed using these tools involve vandalism and theft. More serious offenses that may be perpetrated via the Internet include copyright infringement, or piracy, child pornography, identity theft, and e-mail scams.

The criminal justice system also uses technology. Information technology has arguably advanced criminal justice work the most, but it is also the most controversial in terms of personal privacy. The most common form of government surveillance is dataveillance, which predates the Internet, but which today is increasingly commonly conducted via information technology. This has led to an ever-increasing tension between privacy and security, because people have voluntarily sacrificed some privacy to ease commerce, technology has and is continuing to change, security has become a global concern, technology will continue to advance in ways that may negatively affect privacy.