Sifting Through The Net: Monitoring Of Online Offenders By Researchers
Décary-Hétu, David & Judith Aldridge. (2015). “Sifting Through The Net: Monitoring Of Online Offenders By Researchers.” The European Review Of Organised Crime. 2(2): 122-141.
Criminologists have traditionally used official records, interviews, surveys, and observation to gather data on offenders. Over the past two decades, more and more illegal activities have been conducted on or facilitated by the Internet. This shift towards the virtual is important for criminologists as traces of offenders’ activities can be accessed and monitored, given the right tools and techniques. This paper will discuss three techniques that can be used by criminologists looking to gather data on offenders who operate online: 1) mirroring, which takes a static image of an online resource like websites or forums; 2) monitoring, which involves an on-going observation of static and dynamic resources like websites and forums but also online marketplaces and chat rooms and; 3) leaks, which involve downloading of data placed online by offenders or left by them unwittingly. This paper will focus on how these tools can be developed by social scientists, drawing in part on our experience developing a tool to monitor online drug “cryptomarkets” like Silk Road and its successors. Special attention will be given to the challenges that researchers may face when developing their own custom tool, as well as the ethical considerations that arise from the automatic collection of data online.
This content has been updated on 29 December 2015 at 20 h 00 min.