Five ways Technology Will Ruin Law Enforcement

“The law is an ass” cry those who have ever had to deal with law enforcement or the courts; because our justice system is far from perfect. Guilty people walk away scot free all the time, and innocent people spend years in jail for crimes they didn’t commit. Sometimes we even manage to lock up some criminals along the way, too! The problem is, law enforcement is a hard job and it’s going to get even harder because we just can’t help creating new and interesting technologies to utterly destroy all remaining faith in our ability to determine the truth.

Today, we’ll look at just five of these massive problems that will wreak havoc in the courts in the future. We’ll start with…

5. You Can Fake A DNA Test

If there’s one thing that science-fiction has drummed into us over the years, it’s that DNA makes us who we are. Well, now technology has come along to utterly screw us over on that one by turning the world on its head. It’s possible to fake DNA tests thanks to unscrupulous con merchants on the Internet, who will happily concoct a set of fake results for you, for a not-too-inconsiderable fee.

Thankfully it’s also reasonably easy to prove these fake tests wrong by doing a legitimate DNA test because we don’t actually live in the world of 1995’s Judge Dredd film (thank goodness!) but that didn’t stop one horrible woman trying to trap a former lover with a fake paternity test. If she had managed it, this entry would be higher on our list.

Still, she’s not alone in faking things to get what she wants. You probably did it at some point without even realising it, in fact, because…

4. We Create Fake Photos For Gimmicks

Snapchat has a lot to answer for, aside from making it far too easy for your annoying aunt to send you weird photos when she’s drunk. Those filters Snapchat offers are basically augmented reality and while they aren’t usually all that convincing (I’m sorry but it doesn’t matter how often you use the Dog Filter, you’re not going to be mistaken for Lassie) the technology behind them is surprisingly powerful.

It’s possible to take a similar form of this technology and use it to place yourself into photos with famous people; or make it appear that you are somewhere you aren’t. This is all well and good when it’s done for the purposes of making a nice souvenier at a football match, for example, but it’s less good when it’s used to create an alibi; which it very easily could be.

“How could I have been murdering that woman, officer? You can clearly see from this photo that I was on Snapchat, using the Dog Filter to send drunk pictures to my ex at the time – and you can see from the background that I was over at the Space Needle at the time, not at Jane Doe’s house. No, I can’t explain the blood stains, there wasn’t a filter to remove those.”

It’s only a matter of time.

3. Simple Camera Tricks Ruin Video Evidence

A few years ago, everyone on the Internet was amazed at dash cam evidence that proved the existence of ghost cars in Russia. As it turned out, the “evidence” was nothing more than a simple, if accidental, camera trick where a car had been hidden from the view of the camera until the exact moment that made it seem like the car appeared from nowhere.

This ghost car footage took the Internet by storm and it was quite a while (in Internet terms at least) before someone was able to explain what had happened. If this can be done accidentally, imagine what the possibilities are if you have some experienced camera people sit down and work out how to pull off a camera trick on purpose.

With the right forward planning, it could be remarkably easy for experienced camera operators to make something appear to happen (or not happen) while producing video evidence. That’s why it’s so important to not believe everything you see just because you saw it. If it’s on the Internet, you aren’t seeing the whole story.

2. Hackers Can Tamper With Evidence

Every year there’s at least one film or TV episode where the plot revolves around breaking into somewhere to steal, plant or tamper with vital evidence. It’s usually the deciding factor in a tense drama that’s fun to watch; but probably nowhere near as fun to actually experience if you’re relying on that evidence. Well, start worrying because it’s actually a reality. Hackers can delete, insert or modify any evidence that is stored on a computer; or make evidence disappear if the record of where it is being held is stored on a computer. Welcome to Twenty-first Century law enforcement.

Moreover, it turned out a while back that the software in police body cameras is vulnerable to hacker attack too; so if you were hoping that the bodycam footage from whatever incident you had with the police was going to save you; you’d better hope that nobody was interested in seeing you come to harm because if they were, there’s no guarantee that footage still exists (if it was even recorded at all).

1. Deep Fakes Mean You Can’t Trust Confessions

Here’s the most disturbing video you’ll see all day; unless your plans for the evening include trawling the deep web, of course.

That’s Jim Carey’s face on a woman’s body and while it’s not 100% convincing, it’s getting close. This is a Deep Fake; a composite video created for amusement but which shows off just how advanced AI-driven video editing technology has become. It wasn’t long ago that these videos looked ridiculous and were easy to spot but the technology is advancing rapidly and soon it won’t be possible to tell the real video from a Deep Fake.

Why is this a problem in law enforcement? Well, there are two possible results of this technology. The first is that it will become incredibly easy for a crooked cop to frame you by creating a Deep Fake of your confession to whatever crime they decide to pin on you. You probably won’t be moving too much when being interviewed; which will remove the main source of a human being able to tell when a Deep Fake is, well, fake – the faces don’t match up as well if the angles change.

The second problem is that these videos aren’t limited to simple face-forward editing; they can insert you over an actor doing just about anything. So if you’re on a jury and you see CCTV or eyewitness footage of the accused committing a crime, it’s only a few years before you’ll have to ask yourself if that video was a Deep Fake.

We live in very interesting times, my friends; and technology is to blame.

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