What is the problem?
Innovation in social media has both revolutionized the work of public authorities but also increased the pace with which criminals adapt to modern technologies while disrupting markets. The aim of the Innovative Market Solutions Workshop and the adjacent Industry Day will aim to reveal upcoming trends in tools for public authorities and create a platform for discussion between practitioners and solution providers.
For LEAs and other security stakeholders, social media is used for monitoring suspicious content, intelligence gathering as well as engagement with the public. In day-to-day policing, social media have disrupted markets and operationally how public authorities function. Citizens have been empowered, through social media to investigate crimes, identify criminals and report to public authorities. The use of social media and social platforms as hubs for information sharing about certain incidents, criminal acts and suspects between citizens and LEAs has radically changed the interface between LEAs and citizens.
The monitoring of social media and platforms has proven an effective measure for public authorities to extend their reach and gather intelligence beyond traditional means. The amount of data, that advanced tools and solutions can nowadays process were unimaginable only 5 years ago. However, such monitoring is not without its challenges. Individual’s privacy can be undermined and in certain cases it may lead to discrimination including retaliatory actions from public authorities on certain groups.
Yet as we have seen in our previous workshops criminals can use social media to communicate and hide. The Dark Web serves anonymity and facilitates criminal acts. Whole market places for transactions of material and even of human beings have become mainstream on the Dark Web. It has become a hub for recruitment and radicalisation purposes. Whilst ongoing actions by LEAs to remove illegal content such operations are often too diffuse and uncoordinated.
The challenge is to find a balance between individual freedoms, such as freedom of speech, and the need to fight crime. Individual freedoms become an even more vibrant issue when discussing trolling, online hate and lies: Where is the line between the acceptable and unacceptable and what are the repercussions of removing it?
This workshop aimed to create a common vision and agenda for the technological future of policing through the usage of innovation in social media. It aimed to share best practices and lessons learned among European public authorities and other actors. Participants discussed cutting edge technology like Virtual and Augmented Reality how it will implicate security, what are the challenges and opportunities of such technologies. Is consistent training and education for authorities needed for new technologies and the legal and ethical issues raised with the usage of social media.
Niche solutions and products are not well known to operational personnel. It has become apparent within the 2 years of MEDI@4SEC that it is crucial for public security to introduce more policy aspects, to highlight the fact that SM are here to stay and are fundamentally a much more complex topic than portrayed to be. Except from the policy aspects on a technical level, dark web solutions and services are becoming more sophisticated and are able to better monitor illegal transactions and crypt currency. There is however a huge gap in solutions which monitor and shut down trolls.
It is also clear that the capacity of professional differs greatly. Deep learning techniques require prior knowledge to using them but also to understanding how criminals use them. Thus, training and education are in fat fundamental in the different levels and departments. Finally, another crucial aspect is resources and in general procurement. Committed resources on SM handling are small and scares, but also procurement is extremely diverse between MS, but also at the local level creating an uneven distribution in testing and purchasing equipment.