Q&A with Derek Maltz, Executive Director at Pen Link
Derek Maltz is the former Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Special Operations Division (SOD) of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
- What are the most striking technological developments in the law enforcement sector that you have witnessed during your career?
During my career as a law enforcement Special Agent, I learnt that the best way to successfully infiltrate transnational criminal organisations was through their communication channels. Once we had access to these, law enforcement agencies were able to gather the intelligence and evidence needed to expose the goals and methods behind these criminal organisations.
However, as if often the case with technological developments, criminal organisations have also begun to take advantage of the encrypted IP communication channels and the dark webspace that has enabled them to operate freely.
Unfortunately, the tech world is highly unregulated and as criminals continue to carry out their operations in this manner it has placed law enforcement agencies at a significant disadvantage. The advanced technology that is currently being used by criminal networks is increasing the gap between complex criminal threats and law enforcement agencies.
After all, it is difficult to expect law enforcement agencies to track sophisticated transnational criminal networks if criminal networks are using the exact same tools to infiltrate systems. This issue and the fact that it is a highly unregulated sector has put law enforcement agencies at a disadvantage.
- How can policy makers ensure that technology can be successfully implemented across the law enforcement sector?
Many of the laws in the US are old and antiquated contracting rules that do not take technological change into consideration. Therefore, it is important for laws to be monitored and updated regularly to ensure that technology is successfully implemented across the law enforcement sector.
A key example, of an outdated approach, is wiretapping. The current CALEA laws do not adequately address encrypted communication methods and the advanced applications that are currently being used by sophisticated criminal networks. In addition, as new technologies are frequently being developed and deployed into the market, the outdated governmental budget cycles have impeded law enforcement agencies ability to find solutions in a timely manner.
- How can tech be better utilised to tackle global anti-corruption issues?
As recently showcased with the high-profile trial of El Chapo Guzman, the leader of the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel, high-level corruption is an international issue that affects numerous different countries. From my experience, governments around the world need to ensure that they have the right regulations in place to address the use of technology in criminal networks. Internationally, we should also continue to develop relations with individuals that can help expose governmental corruption in certain areas of the world. We must also work together to fully utilise technological developments in key areas, such as tracking, communication intercepts, video surveillance, drone technology, DNA analysis, voice biometrics, facial recognition and the use of artificial intelligence.
- Should international organisations promote and help supply technology to help eradicate anti-corruption issues?
The law enforcement sector is facing unprecedented international threats from criminal networks that are using advanced technology without restrictive budgets and antiquated laws. Therefore, it is imperative that the United States and other governments develop close partnerships with law enforcements counterparts around the world. We should also continue to have international technology conferences to ensure that we are sharing our successes and using the latest technological solutions.