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Article

Jin R. Lee

Cybercrime is generally understood as behaviors that involve the use of virtual environments and/or networked computer systems to generate harm. This broad definition of cybercrime captures a variety of different online behaviors, including interpersonal violence offenses such as cyberbullying and online harassment, as well as those involving the unauthorized use and access of computer systems such as malware dissemination, ransomware, and distributed denial of service attacks. Cybercrimes are policed by both law enforcement (e.g., local, state or provincial, federal) and extralegal agencies. Local law enforcement agencies are composed of police officers, who are generally tasked with maintaining public order within a specific municipality or county, including investigating crimes, apprehending offenders, and implementing crime prevention mechanisms (e.g., educating the public on available resources; proactive neighborhood patrol) within their local jurisdiction. State and provincial law enforcement agencies are larger police forces that are generally responsible for conduct that occurs within their wider state and provincial borders, including conducting highway traffic control and providing forensic services to smaller local agencies residing within their state or province. State and provincial agencies often become involved only when local forces are limited in their resources to adequately respond to an incident or when local jurisdictional conflicts exist. Federal agencies operate at the highest level of law enforcement, because they deal with crimes that involve homeland security. In fact, federal agencies can obtain cooperation among several national jurisdictions depending on existing political ties and extradition agreements. Several extralegal agencies (e.g., Internet Crime Complaint Center; Computer Emergency Response Teams) are also active in responding to cybercrime incidents. These agencies, which may develop from either public or private sectors, generally perform acts that support law enforcement, including facilitating communication and information sharing between victims and law enforcement agencies. Despite efforts to sanction online offenses, research suggests that cybercrimes present several challenges for law enforcement agencies across all levels of government. First, cybercrime offenders often anonymize their attacks and offline identities, making arrests and criminal prosecutions extremely challenging. Second, even if offenders and their actions are identified, agencies are limited by their geographic location and jurisdiction. Third, the technical nature of cybercrime means that victims may not be aware of their victimization until months after the attack, which may affect the identification of digital evidence necessary to prosecute an offender. Fourth, law enforcement officers may not possess the knowledge and expertise needed to secure and investigate a digital crime scene adequately. One approach that could improve how cybercrimes are enforced and regulated is the paradigm of evidence-based policing (EBP). EBP is a collective effort involving law enforcement agencies, academic researchers, and industry personnel/practitioners, whose central focus is to develop a robust evidence base that can identify current and emerging problems in policing, examine possible solutions to these problems using rigorous scientific methods, and monitor these solutions over extended periods of time to ensure successful outcomes are maintained. Knowing which operational practices work best in different situations will not only lead to a more intentional use of officers’ time and agency resources but also strengthen public perceptions of law enforcement in responding to cybercrime calls for service.

Article

Timothy O. Lenz

The media inform the public about crime while also reflecting and shaping thinking about crime. The news media primarily provide information when they report on crime as part of the coverage of public affairs, but they also shape thinking about crime. The entertainment media, particularly television and film crime stories, primarily entertain audiences, but they also reflect and shape public opinion about the threat of crime, the causes of crime, criminal justice policies, and the criminal justice system. The media effect on the general public’s thinking about crime includes both the news media and the entertainment media because the trends toward infotainment in the news media (e.g., docudramas and true crime reality shows) and realism in the crime genre (stories that are based on or inspired by actual events) have blurred the distinction between fact and fiction. The study of ideology in the crime genre includes the development of theories; empirical analyses of the media effect; explaining ideology, film, and television crime stories as legal texts explaining criminal procedure; and the exploration of current issues related to thinking about rights, law, violence, and justice.

Article

Fei Yang

Predictive policing, also known as crime forecasting, is a set of high technologies aiding the police in solving past crimes and pre-emptively fighting and preventing future ones. With the right deployment of such technologies, law enforcement agencies can combat and control crime more efficiently with time and resources better employed and allocated. The current practices of predictive policing include the integration of various technologies, ranging from predictive crime maps and surveillance cameras to sophisticated computer software and artificial intelligence. Predictive analytics help the police make predictions about where and when future crime is most likely to happen and who will be the perpetrator and who the potential victim. The underpinning logic behind such predictions is the predictability of criminal behavior and crime patterns based on criminological research and theories such as rational choice and deterrence theories, routine activities theory, and broken windows theory. Currently many jurisdictions in the United States have deployed or have been experimenting with various predictive policing technologies. The most widely adopted applications include CompStat, PredPol, HunchLab, Strategic Subject List (SSL), Beware, Domain Awareness System (DAS), and Palantir. The realization of these predictive policing analytics systems relies heavily on the technological assistance provided by data collection and integration software, facial/vehicle identification and tracking tools, and surveillance technologies that keep tabs on individual activities both in the physical environment and in the digital world. Some examples of these assisting technologies include Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR), Next-Generation Identification (NGI) System, the Global Positioning System (GPS), Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL), next-generation police body-worn cameras (BWC) with facial recognition and tracking functions, aerial cameras and unmanned aircraft systems, DeepFace, Persistent Surveillance Systems, Stingrays/D(i)RT-Box/International Mobile Subscriber Identity Catcher, SnapTrends that monitors and analyzes feeds on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Picasa, Flickr, and YouTube. This new fashion of using predictive analytics in policing has elicited extensive doubt and criticism since its invention. Whereas scholarly evaluation research shows mixed findings about how effectively predictive policing actually works to help reduce crime, other concerns center around legal and civil rights issues (including privacy protection and the legitimacy of mass surveillance), inequality (stratified surveillance), cost-effectiveness of the technologies, militarization of the police and its implications (such as worsened relationship and weakened trust between the police and the public), and epistemological challenges to understanding crime. To make the best use of the technologies and avoid their pitfalls at the same time, policymakers need to consider the hotly debated controversies raised in the evolution of predictive policing.

Article

The evolution of criminal justice technologies is inextricably linked to the emergence of new modes of electronic and digital governance that have become essential components of a surveillance and crime control culture continually seeking out novel responses to actual and perceived threats. The slow emergence of these technologies in the second part of the 20th century was often theorized through a discourse of order and control that has subsequently evolved in the 21st century to emphasize the protective potential of technologies oriented toward the interests of victims. The potential of criminal justice technologies to improve public safety and address issues of repeat victimization has now been subjected to significant scrutiny from scholars across the globe. While it would be conceptually inaccurate to split offenders and victims into two discrete groups, there has been an increase in analytical focus upon the intersections between victims of crime and technology within the context of criminal justice processes that had traditionally been oriented toward offenders. A more sophisticated understanding of the psychological and behavioral potential of criminal justice technologies has emerged that has permanently adjusted the landscape of crime and disorder management and has had a transformative impact upon the relationship between victims, technology, and criminal justice. Yet, at the same time, the integration of digital technologies into the crime control and criminal justice infrastructure still is at an early stage in its evolution, with future trends and patterns uncertain.