Beyond these motivators, however, there are theories as to how the high-tech criminal comes to exist. This comes into focus when one takes a closer look at psychological triggers such as those that are explained by Social Learning Theory, for example (Turner, 1993). Within the scope of Social Learning Theory, simply put, the high-tech criminal becomes as such due to environment, social influences, family interactions, and society.
For this breed of criminal, these influences can and do come from opposite ends of the social structure. In the case of those who are educated and born of privilege, Social Learning Theory provides that a sense entitlement and a desire to maintain standing in society, in the manner of which the criminal has been accustomed drives the ambition to lie cheat and steal. Essentially, the mind of any white collar criminal rationalizes that the end result justifies whatever means are utilized to get there.
Individuals who grow up in less than ideal environments, for example unstable family lives, abusive situations, lack of education and so forth, eventually learn the skills and mindset that they will need to properly, and without remorse or hesitation, commit high-tech crimes. Aggression is also a universal, learned behavior which contributes to the proliferation of high-tech crime.
The stressful and hectic nature of everyday lives, and the tendency of society to place such a high value on material things and achievement, creates aggressive individuals who think nothing of breaking laws to get what they think society deems necessary for them to be considered as equals in society itself. Therefore, aggression exists as a by-product of Social Learning Theory as yet another learned behavior, leading to acquired value systems and a distorted sense of right and wrong.
Overall, social theories like Social Learning fit in the high-tech crime model because they directly influence and motivate the individual toward important life choices. No one merely wakes up one day and decides to enter the world of crime; rather, these theories mould the individual into a criminally driven violator of the law and are fueled by information technology and the ability of some with criminal tendencies to manipulate that technology for illegal purposes.
Why Technology is an Ongoing Concern for Police Administrators Technology is an ongoing concern for police administrators on many levels. From an operational standpoint, technology is needed to facilitate rapid communication among law enforcement officers in the field and so forth. In the investigation of crime, technology is needed for crime scene examination, analysis of evidence, etc. Crime prevention is now being made possible through the widespread use of technology.
Given all of the emphasis on technology in the area of high-tech crime prevention/law enforcement, as well as all of the other daily routines of law enforcement, the modern police administration finds themselves in a dilemma- how to keep the technology current, personnel trained, and being able to arrange and afford it all. Cause/Effect of High-Tech Crime The previous portion of the research showed that white collar crime has existed for ages, and has evolved with the progress of the human race and international economies and technology into high-tech crime.
On the most basic level of the human psyche, the limitless possibilities of greed cannot be ignored- for example, an accountant who sees millions of dollars passing through his hands daily may inevitably come to the conclusion that he or she is entitled to their “fair share” of these funds, although the reality is that they are supposed to be the caretakers of the funds for their clients/employers.
Another possible scenario has a doctor submitting false bills to a large medical insurance company under the justification that the “big insurance company” won’t miss a few dollars. What everything filters down to in the mind of the white collar criminal is that the benefits of the crime far outweigh the risks. Essentially, this kind of thinking and the resulting criminal activity places a financial and ethical burden on society at the very least, and as we will now discuss, some much larger threats as well. The Threat to Society
A popular misconception in regard to high-tech crime is that it does not exist to a large extent as opposed to more violent crime; this misconception is based on the fact that high-tech crime is somewhat transparent to the average person because one does not see destroyed property or broken bodies as would be seen in the case of a drive by shooting or a mob-related assassination of criminal rivals. Also, much of this crime that exists is not publicized by the victims out of embarrassment in some cases, and the desire to keep financial information and the like confidential in others.
Statistically, however, the indication is that high-tech crime is the largest growing segment of criminal activity because of the potential to gain a great deal on the part of the criminal with seemingly little risk of being caught, almost no possibility of physical harm as in the case of violent crime, and the aforementioned sense of entitlement to other people’s property, motivated by envy and greed. The literal explosion of high-tech crime, and its proven potential for greater growth in the future, makes it obvious that the threat it poses to society is major.
High-tech crime, in the case of embezzlement/financial fraud for example, can destroy companies, lead to job loss for thousands of people, and harm the economy, as evidenced by such recent events as the Enron debacle which used the computer as opposed to the gun to steal huge amounts of cash, and ultimately, led to not only the collapse of a major business organization, but also literally destroyed the lives and futures of thousands of innocent victims, whose wounds, while not visible to the eye, were no less serious than those of a gun or knife.
High-tech crime will also continue to boom because of the need for more efficient ways to facilitate money laundering and other forms of fraud to allow such popular, albeit reprehensible activities like global terrorism and drug trafficking to occur. Money is the fuel that keeps the fuel of international terror burning, and this money often comes through illegal drug channels and either directly or indirectly from white collar criminals, whose job it is to make the funds appear legitimate to the prying eyes of law enforcement (Daily Record, 2006).
The Researcher’s Personal Views on the Use of Technology by the Courts/Law Enforcement Agencies After completing this research, the researcher was convinced of the value of technology in the law enforcement process and the American court system; as criminals become more complex and tech-savvy, it makes perfect sense that the forces in place to oppose them should become more proficient in technology as well.
This being said, there is the issue of personal rights that needs to be taken into account, for the American citizen possesses rights to privacy, due process and the like that cannot be compromised no matter what happens in the proliferation of criminal activity, for if the rights of innocent Americans are tossed by the wayside because of the activities of criminals, the wrong people ultimately end up being punished. Therefore, technology must be used as a weapon against crime, and not a chain to hold back the average, law abiding citizen.
Conclusion This paper has proven that high-tech crime is well established, in demand, and will likely become even more so as the world becomes more chaotic, greedy and deviant. Luckily, law enforcement is growing more sophisticated and technologically equipped in order to be able to fight high-tech crime. Likewise, the courts systems are using technology to rapidly bring to justice those that would use technology to harm others and break the law.
All of this is fine, as long as the rights of average Americans are not taken away. In closing, another important point needs to be made- as long as something valuable exists, someone will seek to separate those valuables from their legitimate owners. For this reason, the fight against all forms of crime must never cease.
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