Wireless Evolution and Challenges to Law Enforcement

08.01.11 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

“The challenges facing LE [law enforcement] increase with the introduction of each new wireless device,” according to a newly disclosed FBI publication (pdf) which traces the development of wireless communications.

The publication, entitled “Wireless Evolution”, was prepared by the FBI’s Operational Technology Division and published in Emerging Technologies Research Bulletin in March 2011.  A copy was obtained by the Federation of American Scientists under the Freedom of Information Act.

Originally marked “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” it was redacted for release under FOIA and much of the discussion of the implications of new technologies for law enforcement was withheld.  But the remainder provides a remarkably comprehensive (though jargon intensive) account of new communications technologies of interest to law enforcement.

A reader who saw the original, unredacted report said “It does as good a job as I have seen of laying out, in great detail, the evolution of mobile communications from hardware, application, and network perspectives as might be of implication to investigations and analysis.  It also offers good projections on future trends.”

Portions of the report were described in Wired Threat Level on July 28.

A new report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service addresses related law enforcement policy issues.

“The operational realities of 21st century crime and policing present significant challenges to U.S. policy makers,” the report said. “[P]olicies directed toward countering crime in one reality will impact crime and law enforcement countermeasures in other realities.”

See “The Interplay of Borders, Turf, Cyberspace, and Jurisdiction: Issues Confronting U.S. Law Enforcement,” July 19, 2011.  Congress has instructed CRS not to make its publications directly available to the public.  A copy of the new report was obtained by Secrecy News.