Futuristic Criminal Investigations-Part XIII

Specializing In Forensic Child Sexual Abuse Investigations

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

The next step of web communication, Skype has developed into one of the major communications tool of the future. If you don’t know what Skype is, let us look at what Wikipedia says about it:

| Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice and video calls | and chat over the Internet. Calls to other users within the Skype service are
| free, while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones can | be made for a fee using a debit-based user account system.

So what features does Skype have to offer to the law enforcement community? In May of 2011, Microsoft Corporation acquired Skype for 8.5 billion dollars. Skype has a vast and ever growing users list that may assist law enforcement in tracking down a sexual offender ring, which distributes and sells child pornography. Since Skype has so many facets to the software application, law enforcement can track the activities of the sexual offender and his/her activities.

The high quality video which is produced by using Skype makes sense that users would utilize the application. Skype allows 25 people at a time to be on the Internet at the same time, including the host.

The competition of Skype like software is making Skype and others to be more user-friendly for law enforcement to utilize. Since 1999, the Department of Justice has made Cyberstalking of children a priority. As I discussed in previous articles, law enforcement needs any and all tools to assist them in identifying and apprehending sexual offenders.

A new software application is Tango, a new competitor to Skype, which has 26 million users. Tango hit the Internet running when it opened for business approximately a year ago. Again, Skype or Tango allow the frontier in video communication an asset for law enforcement to draw out sexual offenders, child sexual abuse rings, child trafficking and so forth.

Any tool which law enforcement can use now and in the future will deal with communications. Everything is being recorded from street cameras to conversations on the computer. Society can’t get enough of the futuristic tools which allow the user to have intimate contact with family, friends, peers, business associates, organizations and so forth.

Tango can be used on any platform, which makes the software useable. The flexibility for law enforcement allows face-to-face contact i.e. officer to officer. This tool is an officer safety tool which enhances protection of the officers, allowing the officers back-up to see what they are doing and the ability to evaluate what the officer is seeing.

With Skype and Tango there are free phone calls and other services. Considered social networking applications, both have a multitude of features that law enforcement can use.

Some of the positive aspects of utilizing Skype or Tango are:

1. Law enforcement can utilize Skype or Tango to perform video recorded interviews with witnesses who are not accessible and/or out of the state or the country.
2. Law enforcement can utilize Skype or Tango to have contact to contact with their office to communicate information.
3. Law enforcement can utilize Skype or Tango to document any contacts with citizens or individuals who have either application. Recording contacts should be a futuristic goal of any investigator especially those who work in the child sexual abuse investigation field.
4. Law enforcement can utilize Skype or Tango to use it for inter-office meetings so the departments don’t have to pay for travel expenses or try to find facilities big enough to accommodate large groups.
5. Law enforcement can utilize Skype or Tango to use it for training on new policies, protocols and processes instead of trying to schedule multiple people at once; they can do it at different available times.

Some of the negative aspects of utilizing Skype or Tango are:

6. Law enforcement can utilize Skype or Tango, however, if the bandwidth is a problem the quality of the interface may be lacking in quality. One of the characteristics of using the software is the ability to see the individual’s body language. If there is a distortion because of the bandwidth then the meeting should have been conducted in person.
7. Law enforcement can utilize Skype or Tango; however, if the individual or organization does not have the software then there will be a need for preparation time so all of the participating parties have the software.
8. Law enforcement can utilize Skype or Tango, however, if the individual(s) or organization(s) don’t have the capability to use the video camera, this may degrade the quality of the intent of the meeting.
9. Law enforcement can utilize Skype or Tango, however, do to conditions beyond all the parties, the connection between the parties does not allow the meeting to take place. The purpose of using Skype or Tango is to minimize travel and costs.
10. Law enforcement can utilize Skype or Tango, however, the communications between individual(s) and organization(s) needs to be mutual i.e. everyone needs to speak the same language in order for the software to work effectively.

Skype and Tango are the social networks of the future, which have the ability to bring individual(s) and organization(s) together without effort and costs. It is important to educate all law enforcement personnel in the strengths and weaknesses of the software’s and why these programs are not only a benefit to all of the parties involved, but the standard of professionalism will be enhanced.

Tomorrow, the search for new technology that will take law enforcement into the future needs to be considered and utilized as the applications of social networking software’s such as Skype or Tango are just the beginning of stepping forward and improving and documenting human behavior and communications.
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