Communication Interception Technology (CIT) and Its Use in the Fight against Transnational Organised Crime (TOC) in Australia: A Review of the Literature

Peter Bell, Mitchell Congram


In recent times, technology has advanced in such a manner that the world can now communicate in means previously never thought possible. Transnational organised crime groups, who have exploited these new technologies as basis for their criminal success, however, have not overlooked this development, growth and globalisation. Law enforcement agencies have been confronted with an unremitting challenge as they endeavour to intercept, monitor and analyse these communications as a means of disrupting the activities of criminal enterprises. The challenge lies in the ability to recognise and change tactics to match an increasingly sophisticated adversary. The use of communication interception technology, such as phone taps or email interception, is a tactic that when used appropriately has the potential to cause serious disruption to criminal enterprises. Despite the research that exists on CIT and TOC, these two bodies of knowledge rarely intersect. This paper builds on current literature, drawing them together to provide a clearer picture of the use of CIT in an enforcement and intelligence capacity. It provides a review of the literature pertaining to TOC, the structure of criminal enterprises and the vulnerability of communication used by these crime groups. Identifying the current contemporary models of policing it reviews intelligence-led policing as the emerging framework for modern policing. Finally, it assesses the literature concerning CIT, its uses within Australia and the limitations and arguments that exist. In doing so, this paper provides practitioners with a clearer picture of the use, barriers and benefits of using CIT in the fight against TOC. It helps to bridge the current gaps in modern policing theory and offers a perspective that can help drive future research.

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