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Police response to technology-facilitated violence

As technology continues to integrate into all aspects of daily life, it has unfortunately also become a tool for perpetrating violence

By Police1 Staff

Technology-facilitated violence (TFV) such as doxing, swatting, or cyberstalking is a cybercrime that harms victims via use of the internet and mobile technology.

A new publication from the COPS Office (available in full below) aims to equip law enforcement agencies with the necessary knowledge and tools to combat the increasing prevalence of crimes mediated by digital platforms. As technology continues to integrate into all aspects of daily life, it has unfortunately also become a tool for perpetrating violence. This document is an essential resource for understanding the scope, challenges and effective response strategies against TFV.

What is technology-facilitated violence?

Technology-facilitated violence encompasses a range of cybercrimes where technology is not just a tool but a medium through which harm is inflicted upon victims. This includes, but is not limited to, cyberstalking, doxing (releasing private or identifying information without consent), swatting (false emergency reporting to elicit a heavy police response), and other forms of harassment that leverage digital technologies. TFV crimes can have devastating effects on victims, including psychological trauma, loss of privacy, and physical harm. These offenses are characterized by their ability to cross geographical boundaries effortlessly, making them a complex challenge for law enforcement.

What should police be doing to address technology-facilitated violence?

The report outlines several approaches law enforcement should undertake to address TFV:

  • Training and awareness: Officers need ongoing training to stay updated on the latest digital platforms and technologies used in TFV. Understanding the digital landscape is crucial for effective investigation and prevention. Effective investigation requires specialized training in digital forensics, an understanding of the legal framework and collaboration with digital platforms for evidence collection.
  • Legal challenges: Navigating the evolving legal framework surrounding TFV is vital. Law enforcement must work within the bounds of federal and state laws that address these crimes, which may vary significantly. There are federal and state laws targeting various forms of TFV. However, the legal landscape is continuously evolving to keep pace with technological advancements.
  • Victim support: Adopting a victim-centered approach is essential. Officers should be equipped to provide support and resources to victims, recognizing the unique and often hidden trauma associated with TFV. Law enforcement can provide victims with information on protective measures, connect them with support services, and offer guidance on securing their digital presence.
  • Interagency collaboration: Given the cross-jurisdictional nature of TFV, fostering collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, technology companies, and victim support services is key to tracking and addressing these crimes effectively.
  • Community engagement: Raising awareness about TFV within the community and encouraging the reporting of these crimes can help in prevention and early intervention. Community awareness and education on safe online practices, as well as encouraging the reporting of TFV incidents, are critical components in the fight against tech violence.

By understanding and addressing the multifaceted challenge of technology-facilitated violence, law enforcement agencies can better protect communities in the digital age.

Find the complete report below and online here.