#CyberFLASH: Privacy measures allow criminals to hide their dirty deeds from police

krawczyk01.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxToronto police Det. Paul Krawczyk is posing as a pedophile in an online chat forum where anonymous men are sharing some of the most troubling thoughts the mind can fathom — from luring young children for sex to feeding them rape drugs.

“This person has told me … they’re interested sexually in 3-year-olds to 9-year-olds,” says Krawczyk, a senior child exploitation investigator, reading a message sent on a “boy love” chat forum.

The online posters trade technical tips on how to hide their identities from police throughout.

“He’s saying to use a particular chatting program that is known for its encryption.”

A joint Toronto Star/Scripps News investigation has detailed how post-Snowden privacy measures — including highly advanced encryption and added search-warrant requirements — have allowed child molesters, drug dealers and organized crime members to hide their crimes from police.

While stronger privacy measures have addressed concerns about authorities snooping into our lives, police say they have had unintended consequences: the likelihood that criminals can evade justice because evidence is unattainable.

It raises an unanswered question of the digital age: how do we balance protecting personal privacy with the ability of police to investigate crime?

On the one hand, police warn that crimes can now unfold before them as they stand by handcuffed by time-consuming judicial bureaucracy or unbreakable encryption. On the other, privacy advocates say we are all better protected from criminal threats posed by everything from tyrannical governments to sophisticated criminals.

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