Rise of personal technology in criminal proceedings poses risks to individuals' rights

ScienceDaily | 1/10/2017 | Staff
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Information such as location, travel patterns and even physiological details such as heart rate and activity levels could be retrieved from devices as a part of criminal investigations. Such technology offers new tools to law enforcement, but raises unique issues regarding important constitutional rights such as self-incrimination, according to the report.

Courtrooms also are poised to change because of technology, with teleconferencing, digital records and even virtual reality entering the scene -- all intended to speed up proceedings and reduce the cost to the justice system. These technologies raise issues of fairness for defendants and may change the notion of whether a trial by videoconference is equal to proceedings where everyone appears in person, according to the report.

Changes - Law - Justice - Systems - Time

"When changes are gradual, the law and the criminal justice systems have time to react and adapt naturally as conflicts appear," said Brian Jackson, lead author of the study and a physical scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "But new technologies are developing rapidly and are likely to create conflicts before the legal system is fully prepared to deal with them."

Both the courts and law enforcement agencies need to make greater efforts to identify the conflicts ahead, as well educate the criminal justice workforce about how to both properly use and address concerns regarding the emerging tools, according to the report.

Efforts - Disputes - Technology - Point - Example

These efforts should focus on trying to identify and arbitrate disputes about technology before they reach a critical point. One example of such a conflict was when investigators probing the mass shooting that took place in San Bernardino in 2015 wanted to unlock a smartphone belonging to one of the shooters. Those efforts were delayed while investigators unsuccessfully tried to convince the phone's manufacturer to aid their efforts.

Researchers say working through the issues surrounding new technologies outside the pressure of a public safety...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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