Unprecedented globalization, expansion and change is irrevocably altering global dynamics. Technological evolution has brought about unparalleled levels of progress which continually restructure the fabric of our society, beginning from the very way we interface with one another. Indeed, the achievements of a fast-evolving and increasingly interconnected world with a quantum jump in technology in different sectors benefit mankind as a whole.
We live in a world where the concept of borders has changed radically: there is a growing movement of people, commodities, services and ideas between countries and regions in a common global market. Some clear discrepancies are however surfacing, particularly the gap between the expectations from the future we envisage and are striving for and the stark reality facing many people on a daily basis. New vulnerabilities are emerging, particularly the increasing risk of exploitation of new opportunities for progress by organized criminal networks. Examples of this trend is the exploitation of the benefits and opportunities of cyber-space through cyber crime and the ruthless undermining of State institutions through corruption at all levels.
The very same technology that is providing us with the tools to safeguard freedom of speech providing us the means for instantaneous global communication and free movement of ideas and knowledge is also being used by criminals who phish for individuals private information, credit card details, or who use cyber space as a platform to exchange inappropriate images or sell illegal materials. In response to this, UNICRI has been focusing on cybercrime for many years, enabling the Institute to accumulate the skills and know-how to analyze the many trends associated with online criminal activity. Through its advocacy role UNICRI has contributed to raising understanding and awareness of cyber threats, in assisting law enforcement and policy makers at the national and international levels to address and combat the growing threats to cyber security.
This issue of F3 highlights the importance of involving citizens and their governments in the process of change and to be cognizant to the potential threats to development emanating from their exploitation by organized crime networks. Care should also be taken so that new technological developments do not contribute to accentuating disparities, such as the “digital divide”, but rather contribute to a homogenous and collective growth and collective mutual benefits.
by Jonathan Lucas
United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI)