Cybercrime is an area of crime that is growing fast. It is a crime involving the use of a computer in committing the crime or the computer being the target. The government introduced the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section in the justice department to help tackle cybercrimes. However, the methods applied such as surveillance and observing individuals violate their constitutional rights. This study identifies the problem of violating rights while fighting cybercrime. It defines the specific areas where privacy rights are violated. The agencies do not gain the consent of the individuals before attempting to surveil them hence violating their privacy rights. Besides, the research offers policy reforms that can help the government fight cybercrime and avoid violating the human rights of the victims. The paper recommends clarification of the extent to which surveillance technologies are applied. Besides, the study recommends the agencies to define precisely the activities considered to be cybercrimes.
Keywords: cybercrime, policy, privacy.
In recent years technology has been growing at a very high rate with improved inventions and innovations. Similarly, cybercrime and technology related crime have also been on the rise as more and more new technology enters in to society.However, the integration of the section of computer crime and the intellectual property in the division of criminal of the Justice Department was a good move in assisting in curbing the cybercrimes through implementing of the efforts of anti-cybercrime such as the use of electronic surveillance. This initiative has significantly helped in combat intellectual and computer crimes such as stolen information and trade secrets (Halbert, 2016). However, despite the section being effective in minimizing the cybercrimes, the law significantly breaches the Americans constitutional rights. The use of electronic surveillance is a prime issue that makes the privacy law which protects individuals from spying and stalking irrelevant. This paper will focus on outlining the problem reflected by the use of electronic surveillance to combat cybercrimes and propose some recommendation to encourage the lawmakers and enforcement to continue safeguarding the Americans’ constitutional right as they continue to fight cybercrime.
The Constitution of the United States and the bill of rights are the cornerstone that helped build an America society characterized by every citizen living free from any government restraint. However, the action of using electronic surveillance by law enforcement agencies for national security and domestic relations limits and negates the rights of citizens to be alone eventually. Finklea& Theohary (2015)assert that the indiscriminate utilization history which the electronic surveillance has been employed at the domestic level depicts that the citizens of America are substantially susceptible to the violation of rights to one’s privacy. The constitution in various amendments such as fourth, first, third, fourteenth among others significantly prohibits the unlawful and indiscriminate invasion to individual privacy. Additionally, the fourth amendment explicitly specifies that “The citizens’ right of being safe in their persons, residential homes, and effects, contrary to unwarranted searches and seizures, should not be dishonored.” Also, “no warrants should be given out, but only when a probable cause is certified, backed by oath or declaration, and specifically unfolding the area to be rummaged around, and the individuals or things to be seized.” Therefore, the constitution’s fourth amendment provides specific rules of safeguarding of the citizens’ rights of ownership and protection against unreasonable search (Elmaghraby & Losavio, 2014).
However, the utilization of electronic surveillance follows what an individual is doing without the consent and awareness of a person that one’s data is being collected. According to Halbert (2016), this practice results in interference with one’s privacy of being free from association, observation, expression, and attention of the public. Additionally, the metadata collected through different electronic surveillance programs creates threats to citizen since the metadata enable the observer to map one’s network and activities (Finklea& Theohary, 2015). This practice has resulted in the change of people habits and culture as they interact due to fear of being spied. Besides, the confidentiality of the data regarding an individual is usually at stake since breaching their privacy may result in the loss of information or unintentionally shared due to the breakdown of operations.
Thus, the lawmakers and law enforcement agencies should ensure the policies they formulate protect the citizens’ right while still fighting cybercrime.For instance, clarifying of the extent of the application of surveillance technologies can help protect the privacy of citizens. Theclarification would help citizen to gain insight on the degree of disclosure of one’s internet browsing(Finklea& Theohary, 2015). Therefore, citizens would be aware of situations which may lead to observance by authorities.Additionally, to safeguard the privacy of individuals issues regarding consent and disclosure need to be precisely addressed. Before using an individual’s electronic to conduct surveillance, the investigator needs to acquire the owner’s consent.
Moreover, federal laws need to adjust to not only technological changes but also need to conform to the effect of the changes impact individual privacy protection. The adjustment will achieve a balance between curbing cybercrimes while at the same time protecting the privacy rights of citizens as indicated in the constitution(Elmaghraby & Losavio, 2014). Consequently, the aspect will imply the law enforcement agencies need to significantly engage in continuous preservation and enhancement of the present capabilities despite the face of the more complex cyber-crime forms.More importantly, the laws formulated need to define cybercrimes accurately in the bill of rights so that citizens are aware of when participating in the crimes.
In summary, in their efforts to combat cybercrimes, the government should put in place policies that protect the constitutional rights of the citizens while fighting cybercrime. The rights of privacy are violated when the agencies conduct surveillance over electrical gadgets without the consent of the citizens. The constitutional rights can, however, be protected through clarifying of the extent of the application of surveillance technologies. Similarly, seeking permission from the citizens is an effort towards a reduction in the violation of constitutional rights.
Elmaghraby, A. S., & Losavio, M. M. (2014). Cybersecurity challenges in Smart Cities: Safety, security, and privacy. Journal of advanced research, 5(4), 491-497. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2090123214000290
Finklea, K. M., & Theohary, C. A. (2015). Cybercrime: Conceptual issues for Congress and US law enforcement. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Retrieved from https://www.everycrsreport.com/files/20120720_R42547_e60ff2918459bb1bf111192bc13e1d894b6729b4.pdf
Halbert, D. (2016). Intellectual property theft and national security: Agendas and assumptions. The Information Society, 32(4), 256-268.
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