Automatic Justice? Technology, Crime and Social Control
R. Brownsword, E. Scotford and K. Yeung (eds), The Oxford Handbook of the Law and Regulation of Technology, OUP, Forthcoming
23 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2015 Last revised: 23 Oct 2018
Date Written: October 19, 2015
This paper examines how forensic science and technology are reshaping crime investigation, prosecution and the administration of criminal justice. It illustrates the profound effect of new scientific techniques, data collection devices and mathematical analytical procedures on the traditional criminal justice system. These blur the boundary between the innocent person, the suspect, the accused and the convicted. They also blur the boundary between evidence collection, testing its veracity and probative value, the adjudication of guilt and punishment. The entire process is being automated and temporally and procedurally compressed. At the same time, the start and finish of the criminal justice process are now indefinite and indistinct as a result of the introduction of mass surveillance and the erosion against ‘double jeopardy’ protections caused by scientific advances that make it possible to revisit conclusions reached in the distant past. This, we argue, indicates a move towards a system of ‘automatic justice’ that is mediated by technology in ways that minimise human agency and undercuts the due process safeguards built into the traditional criminal justice model. The paper concludes that in order to re-balance the relationship between state and citizen in an automatic criminal justice system, we may need to accept the limitations of the existing criminal procedure framework and deploy privacy and data protection law which are now highly relevant to criminal justice.
Keywords: criminal justice; due process, surveillance, forensics, automation, technology, evidence, fair trial, data protection, privacy
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