The past 12 months have highlighted the increasing gap between the ability of law enforcement to keep up with advances in technology in the UK. For instance just this year we’ve seen; court injunctions being broken by Twitter, riots being partly organised through multiple social networking platforms and a series of high profile data breaches. All these events have understandably increased the public’s concerns over the ability of law enforcement to police cyberspace for the good of society.
According to the latest Unisys Security Index, which tracks consumer security concerns every six months and yields valuable insights into the issues that matter to people today, 48% of the public believed that a temporary shutdown of social networks might help to prevent coordinated criminal activity during periods of severe civil unrest. It also found that 46 per cent of the public accept that authorities should utilise social networking data to improve public safety, such as the uploading of real time criminal evidence by the public. In addition, 56 per cent of respondents mentioned they would take legal action against companies which suffer breaches relating to personal data online.
The key debate for governments and law enforcement has been how to cope with the growing influx of social media platforms used in instances such as the London riots, without relinquishing the freedom of speech the UK has become synonymous with – as David Cameron mentioned at the London Cybercrime conference on 1st and 2nd November 2011, the internet is about freedom of access to all, but not as a medium for a free-for-all. It is evident that the public want to see protective measures in place that will safeguard them from a repeat of such instances and guarantee their freedom of access to the internet.
As devices become increasingly interconnected enabling a swifter and freer flow of information, there is a need for traditional legal structures and corporate governance to adapt accordingly. While governments and law enforcement authorities consider ways of quickly sharing and identifying cyber threats across borders and jurisdictions there is a clear need to have better mechanisms for the swift sharing of criminal info leading to convictions. In addition, the public and business have a responsibility to behave within the law when using cyberspace but to do so the traditional legal framework needs to be brought up to date.
In this ever connected world, the public want to know that they and their data are being protected. The conclusions from the survey show that the public expect law enforcement to have the legal framework to act swiftly to protect society online and that they, the People, are ready to act if they feel they have become a victim of data and online crime.