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International review of criminal policy - Nos. 43 and 44/Law enforcement and legal training

D. Law enforcement and legal training

210. The dynamic nature of computer technology, compounded by specific considerations and complications in applying traditional laws to this new technology, dictate that the law enforcement, legal and judicial communities must develop new skills to be able to respond adequately to the challenge presented by computer crime. The growing sophistication of telecommunications systems and the high level of expertise of many system operators complicate significantly the task of regulatory and legal intervention.

211. Familiarity with electronic complexity is slowly spreading among the general population. It is a time when young people are comfortable with a new technology that intimidates their elders. Parents, investigators, lawyers and judges often feel a comparative level of incompetence in relation to "complicated" computer technology. In their recent book, Hafner and Markhoff contend that society is in a transition, in terms of general familiarity with computers and their use. Training in this area and familiarity with the concepts behind complex computer techniques such as trojan horses and salami slices are required before law enforces can operate adequately.

212. Until recently, computer-related crime was concentrated in the economic environment. The law enforcement community responded by training existing commercial crime or fraud experts in the specialized area of computer crime investigation. However, modern experience indicates that computer crime has progressed far beyond the economic environment and is evident in many areas of traditional criminal activity. For example, drug traffickers can utilize data banks to organize transactions and store records of their contacts. Sex offends have utilized computer bulletin boards to identify potential victims. A coordinated and concentrated effort must be made to provide investigators, prosecution authorities and the courts with the necessary technical means and expertise to adequately and properly investigate all types of computer crime. To adopt this approach will require a dedication to efficient training.

213. Few individuals possessing the necessary blend of experience and technical understanding in computer technology are employed in law enforcement. Teaching computer techniques to individuals in all sectors of the justice system will promote an appreciation of the complexities that have arisen in this new area of enforcement and will foster consistency in the application of criminal sanctions and procedures. For example, traditional search and seizure techniques are conducted in an environment where the evidence being sought is visible or otherwise tangible. In the electronic environment, however, courts and investigators alike are often unsure how to apply traditional evidence procedures to intangible information. In addition, very few legislative or procedural guidelines exist. Proper training in clearly developed search and seizure techniques is required to ensure the preservation of evidence consistent with accepted principles of admissibility of evidence, while at the same time protecting the rights of all parties to the action.

214. An appropriate training program would, therefore, impart a thorough understanding in five areas.

1. The difference between a civil and a criminal wrong

215. Since not all computer-related abuses may constitute a criminal offense, it is necessary to be able to differentiate between infringements of the civil law and the criminal law, as well as to determine what are merely social nuisances. This is important for the purposes of establishing liability and respecting the rights of citizens, and it also permits scarce police resources to be concentrated on and allocated to conduct that is truly deserving of the criminal sanction.

2. The technology

216. To address computer crime, most police departments are allocating a greater proportion of resources to their economic or fraud investigation divisions, since many types of computer crime occur in the course of business transactions or affect financial assets. Accordingly, it is important for investigators to know about business transactions and about the use of computer in business.

217. To be able to understand fully the potential for criminal exploitation of computer technology, regardless of whether it is business-related, investigators must have a thorough understanding of that technology. Experience has demonstrated that the assistance of technical experts is not sufficient. The ideal situation is to have investigators with not only solid criminal investigation backgrounds but also supplementary technical knowledge. This is similar to the traditional approach, where many police forces ensure that their fraud investigators, although not necessarily accountants, possess a thorough understanding of financial and business record-keeping.

218. By extension, the administrators of the criminal justice system must also ensure that those who fulfill the prosecutorial and judicial duties possess enough technical knowledge to be able to properly prosecute and adjudicate computer crimes.

3. Proper means of obtaining and preserving evidence and of presenting is before the courts

219. Investigators have always been expected to be well trained in obtaining evidence, maintaining its continuity and integrity and presenting it to the prosecutorial authorities in a manner such that it may be considered by the courts. These processes presented little difficulty when the evidence was tangible and detectable by human senses. Computer technology, however, has introduced new challenges to the gathering and preservation of evidence. Investigators must be able to search for, gather, analyse, maintain the continuity and integrity of, and present computer evidence for the purposes of judicial hearings. It must be done in a manner that is fair to the parties concerned and that does not risk damaging or modifying the original data. This requires a special knowledge of and the development of investigatory techniques that will be judicially acceptable. It also requires an understanding of the laws of evidence of the particular jurisdiction.

4. The intricacies of the international nature of the problem

220. National boundaries, which in the past may have hindered the activities of criminals, have effectively disappeared with the advent of modern telecommunications. In gathering evidence, investigators must be able to understand and deal with international issues, such as extradition and mutual assistance. The laws of evidence, criminal procedure and data protection of other jurisdictions must be considered when pursuing international investigations.

5. The rights and privileges of the accused and the victim

221. Investigators, prosecutors and others involved in the investigation and prosecution of computer crime must be fair to both the accused and the victim in order to ensure equitable application of the law. Additionally in dealing with international investigations, investigators should also understand the rights and privileges in the order jurisdiction to ensure the integrity and fairness of the investigation. Respect for the rights and privileges of all persons concerned will not only ensure the credibility of the investigators and others who present these matters before the courts, but it may also help to instill confidence in the citizenry that the criminal justice system can adequately and fairly deal with the challenges posed by the computer criminal.

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