Google vs. the Mexican Drug Cartels

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The found of Future Crimes, an organization that studies the convergence of technology and crime, Marc Goodman, essentially described the involvement of top firms like Google by saying that "...there's never been an operating system that hasn't been hacked." Schmidt, for his part, offered a variety of potential solutions, including a network that easily--and safely--allows citizens to report cartel activity, improving information sharing systems between police agencies, identifying how people are connected to things like bank accounts and even the corrupt officials within the government itself.

While reports indicate that a large amount of cartel activity--around 80 percent--goes unreported due in large part to fear of reprisal from the cartels themselves, a hefty portion of that 80 percent also comes from lack of trust in the authorities. Thus, Mexico's interior minister Alejandro Poire challenged tech companies to develop a system by which Mexico's citizens can use cell phones--and around 80 percent of the Mexican population owns a cell phone--to file anonymous reports of criminal activity in a central call center that directs officer responses. Francisco Niembro, Mexico's undersecretary of information technology, has said that nearly a quarter of Mexico's entire federal police force--8,500 out of 36,000--is focused on gathering intelligence, but to fully analyze all this intelligence takes systems, and staffing, more sophisticated than they can immediately bring to bear.




The found of Future Crimes, an organization that studies the convergence of technology and crime, Marc Goodman, essentially described the involvement of top firms like Google by saying that "...there's never been an operating system that hasn't been hacked." Schmidt, for his part, offered a variety of potential solutions, including a network that easily--and safely--allows citizens to report cartel activity, improving information sharing systems between police agencies, identifying how people are connected to things like bank accounts and even the corrupt officials within the government itself.

While reports indicate that a large amount of cartel activity--around 80 percent--goes unreported due in large part to fear of reprisal from the cartels themselves, a hefty portion of that 80 percent also comes from lack of trust in the authorities. Thus, Mexico's interior minister Alejandro Poire challenged tech companies to develop a system by which Mexico's citizens can use cell phones--and around 80 percent of the Mexican population owns a cell phone--to file anonymous reports of criminal activity in a central call center that directs officer responses. Francisco Niembro, Mexico's undersecretary of information technology, has said that nearly a quarter of Mexico's entire federal police force--8,500 out of 36,000--is focused on gathering intelligence, but to fully analyze all this intelligence takes systems, and staffing, more sophisticated than they can immediately bring to bear.

The problem Mexico--indeed, the world on some levels--faces is a difficult one. Better use of information alone won't do the job, as even Google's Schmidt agrees. But getting a better handle on the information available will give government users the kind of force they need to know where to direct their more conventional forces to do the most damage to criminal acts. Though some have concerns about governments directing this kind of information capability on their own citizens, it's clear that some kind of edge is necessary to keep Mexico out of the hands of the drug cartels. An improved focus on information gathering and dissemination may well be the extra edge that's needed.




Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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