Want to Do Crimes? Upgrade to 5G, Apparently

Photo: AP

Europe’s police agency is worried that the 5G will interfere with law enforcement’s ability to track people.

Catherine De Bolle, head of Europol is asking European Union leaders to allow their agency to be more engaged in policy conversations involving the adoption of 5G technology, Reuters reports.

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Police agencies in Europe, and the U.S., are capable of tracking and listening in on cell phones using 4G, but, many of the tools they use don’t work in the 5G network, De Bolle told Reuters. She explained that 5G networks spread data across networks in a way that makes it difficult to track.

“It is one of the most important investigative tools that police officers and services have, so we need this in the future,” De Bolle told Reuters, describing Europol’s tracking surveillance that works on the current mobile infrastructure. But those tools might not work for long, as “we cannot use them in the 5G.”

On Thursday Europol released a report titled “Do Criminals Dream of Electric Sheep,” which presents their vision for doing their job in the digital era, dealing with criminals who use encryption, hacking, 3-D printing, self-driving cars, and drones. We’re sure that Phillip K. Dick would be proud to have his work appropriated into the title of a blueprint for the future of law enforcement.

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De Bolle is taking the opportunity to complain that police weren’t brought in early enough for business and policy talks about 5G. “The biggest risk is that we are not enough aware of the developments on a technological level and we have to be ahead on this,” she told Reuters. “So we need to be at the table where they discuss about the technological development, where they discuss standardization.”

According to Reuters, Europol is campaigning to double its current budget of 138 million euros ($155 million) within the next eight years, so the agency can boost its cybercrime resources.

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Criminals take note, 5G is, for the moment, a new must-have for your crime-doing toolkit—maybe. It’s at least the latest technological foil for law enforcement to beg for money.

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Jennings Brown

Senior editor and reporter at Gizmodo