Daily Management Review

Security Agency Warns Of “Struggle” To Track Criminals Over 5G Networks


Security Agency Warns Of “Struggle” To Track Criminals Over 5G Networks
Europol has warned that it may not be possible for European police forces to effectively keep track of criminals over the new 5G mobile networks that is being constructed in a number of European countries. 
The tools that are currently used by the pan-European security agency for tracking of criminals through eavesdropping over 4G networks are not available now for 5G networks, said the director of the agency. She added that efforts and discussions among police forces to ensure that their capabilities to track criminals for 5G networks have come too late.
The comments were "surprising" because it would still be possible to track criminals lawfully via 5G networks, said mobile industry body the GSMA.
The capacity of security agencies to be able to effectively carryout criminal surveillance via current 4G networks was "one of the most important investigative tools that police officers and services have", said Europol director Catherine De Bolle in an interview to the media.
She added that forces that have been investigating criminal gangs have found it worthwhile to make use of the tools and techniques that have been developed to work with 4G networks and the same tools can also be used effectively to locate victims of kidnapping. She added that this might not be possible over 5G networks because the tools would not be effective because the new age network functions by scattering data across lots of elements of the mobile system.
De Bolle said that the ways to close down this gap in surveillance is being attempted to be found through discussions with tech firms and governments.
"The area we are working in and the technological evolution we are dealing with - the innovation used by criminals, the web-based criminality - it is huge," she added.
The launch of 5G enabled networks would not necessarily mean that it would not be possible for security agencies to track criminals, said the GSMA which is an organization that is engaged in coordinating the development of mobile technology.
“Law enforcement agencies have been actively involved in the global 3GPP initiative that is responsible for setting the standards for 5G - this includes setting the standards for enabling lawful interception,” it said. “The mobile industry and anyone involved in the development of 5G are acutely aware of the need for lawful access to telecommunications as we deploy 5G networks," it added.
The warning from De Bolle came before the release of a report by Europol which examines the challenges and dangers that are posed by future technologies for the work it does and the efforts of the law enforcement agencies to catch criminals. There was mention of other potential threats mentioned in the report which include the likes of terrorists using autonomous cars as weapons and the threat of encryption systems being cracked down by quantum computers.