Artificial Intelligence (AI) is powerful and offers great potential, making it one of the most rapidly adopted technologies in recent memory for both commercial and personal usages. For businesses, AI-enabled software has proven itself at deriving value from massive, sometimes intractable bodies of data—in bulk or in real-time—to provide insights, improve productivity, and drive better decision making. It analyzes medical images, detects financial fraud, and optimizes the efficiency of manufacturing operations, to name but a few.
In the personal sphere, AI-powered digital assistants are becoming more prevalent. Customers increasingly interact with chatbots instead of people and our phones and other devices are becoming so responsive they can feel almost sentient. Ordinary people are using generative AI, such as ChatGPT and other tools, to write everything from corporate reports to term papers, with substantial success. Similar technologies can create convincing false content such as pictures or videos that appear to show individuals doing or saying things that never occurred.
Broadly, AI provides the ability to manipulate data more powerfully than ever before, the effects of which can range from the trivial to the profound. A hobbyist may create a realistic video of their dog singing a song, or control household appliances using voice commands. At the same time, AI’s capabilities and quasi-human nature may be misused by bad actors to deceive, defraud, or evade justice. Unsurprisingly, criminals have adopted AI technologies in many clever ways, and the legal frameworks to control them are lagging behind.
The Rising Threat of Criminal AI
Many criminal usages of AI are patterned after legitimate ones that have become widespread in the business world, such as automation and identifying patterns in large sets of data. Chatbots built to improve customer service can be adapted to defraud people just as human-powered scam call centers have for decades. As with lawful business processes, the addition of AI can automate this workflow, removing the need for human operators and scaling virtually without limit. A sophisticated criminal organization might likewise use predictive analytics to identify lucrative but vulnerable businesses or individuals as targets for financial crime.
Other types of AI-assisted crime have arisen more organically. For example, images, audio, and video created using deepfake technology can be convincing enough to cause a person’s loved ones to fall victim to fraud. Embarrassing or obscene fake content can be used to harass, provoke, or blackmail. Lives can be disrupted, and public perception can be manipulated to illegally and improperly influence everything from political elections to stock prices. AI is also becoming a force in cybercrime, where it has massive potential to assist perpetrators. In addition to scanning the defenses of potential targets for weaknesses, AI can be used to design and create automated, efficient, and sophisticated malware delivery tools.
Criminal organizations may also employ AI to help them evade law enforcement. Analysis of public records, news articles, and social posts can reveal the aspects of a drug smuggling and distribution ring that are most likely to be discovered by police, for example, and algorithmic analysis of drug seizures can help determine whether the organization has a leak or if police just got lucky. While law enforcement agencies (LEAs) have access to the same capabilities and tools, leveraging them to investigate and prosecute AI-assisted crimes requires that regulatory mandates catch up with this emerging technological reality.
Building the Lawful Response
The technical complexity and speed of development of AI have largely outpaced legal measures to govern it. For example, laws and regulations to govern the use of deepfake technology have yet to be written, and existing frameworks and remedies may not provide the information necessary for investigators. In many nations, AI is rightly viewed as a strategic enabler, and while those countries try to strengthen their local industry, lawmakers may avoid regulations that delay deployments. The silver lining for LEAs is that most AI applications are delivered as cloud services, which may offer a potential advantage for lawful intelligence – international cooperation treaty issues notwithstanding.
The relationship between cloud service providers and the delivery of AI capabilities to criminals provides breadcrumbs that can be ingested into SS8’s data fusion engine to advance investigations. But to optimize such efforts, a regulatory framework that specifically addresses the use of AI services is needed. Lawmakers around the world are working to govern the use of AI for public good, balancing the needs of privacy with those of innovation, and SS8 supports their call for governments and standards bodies to consider the lawful intelligence implications of AI.
Similar to CALEA in the US and similar regulations worldwide, a legal framework is needed to ensure data detailing interactions between customers and AI service providers can be recovered with proper legal authorization. As with previous measures, record keeping and assisting law enforcement will carry a cost for service providers, who may not comply without being mandated to, yet the technical requirements and privacy considerations to do so have not yet been formalized in a wide-reaching way. The creation of standards and regulations in this area is timely and necessary to safeguard the effective use of lawful intelligence to respond to the emergence of mainstream AI-assisted crime.
About Kevin McTiernan
Kevin has over 20 years of extensive experience in the telecommunications and network security industries. At SS8, Kevin is the VP of Government Solutions and is responsible for leading the vision, design, and delivery of SS8’s government solutions, including the Xcipio® compliance portfolio. You can learn more about Kevin on his LinkedIn profile by clicking here.
About SS8 Networks
As a leader in Lawful and Location Intelligence, SS8 helps make societies safer. Our commitment is to extract, analyze, and visualize the critical intelligence that gives law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and emergency services the real-time insights that help save lives. Our high performance, flexible, and future-proof solutions also enable mobile network operators to achieve regulatory compliance with minimum disruption, time, and cost. SS8 is trusted by the largest government agencies, communications providers, and systems integrators globally.
Intellego® XT monitoring and data analytics portfolio is optimized for Law Enforcement Agencies to capture, analyze, and visualize complex data sets for real-time investigative intelligence.
LocationWise delivers the highest audited network location accuracy worldwide, providing active and passive location intelligence for emergency services, law enforcement, and mobile network operators.
Xcipio® mediation platform meets the demands of lawful intercept in any network type and provides the ability to transcode (convert) between lawful intercept handover versions and standard families.
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