The Director of Europol, Rob Wainwright, warned law enforcers that they would have to struggle to keep up with the changing landscape of the criminal world. The largest instigator of change here is the Dark Net, a series of websites invisible to search engines like Google, through which illicit and illegal activity can be performed.
A New Setting for Crime
Mr Wainwright, who will be visiting Scotland in March this year, encouraged police and lawyers to familiarise themselves with the methods used in order to provide a better defence against prohibited online trades, meetings and more.
Whereas before, drugs, weapons, and other commodities would need to be physically sold in the open, they can now be purchased in hidden corners of the Dark Net. This change is also fragmenting the nature of organised crime, ending the age of the large mafia-type group and instead splitting criminals up into smaller splinter-cells.
Hidden behind the Monitor
The internet also offers encryption and anonymity which, as Rob Wainwright notices, allows individual to buy or sell anything without fear of being detected. The electronic nature of the medium means that police can’t intercept messages and build evidence for criminal lawyers to use in their cases.
Restoring the Balance
The Europol director suggested giving law enforcement greater powers to access these electronic realms. While there was no mention of letting police snoop on everyone’s emails – a move which would certainly violate our privacy – he did recommend giving police permission to track and record the online activities of suspect individuals after a judicial warrant.
In the end, a balance was suggested where individual privacy was maintained while empowering law enforcement to catch those engaging in illegal activity online. With better tools, criminals could be brought to justice despite the anonymity and ease-of-access that the Dark Net provides.