2 Jun 2010

Should the Government Make it Impossible to Break the Law?

It is often said that prevention is better than cure. It is exactly on this theme that we came across a paper on SSRN by Daniel Rosenthal entitled "Should the Government Make it Impossible to Violate the Law? An Analysis of Preemptive Enforcement"which builds its hypothesis on the premise that preemptive action on the part of the Government to stop the occurrence of crime is the best scenario for the civil society and thereon goes to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of such preemptive action at the part of the Government as a means for law enforcement and regulation. 

The abstract of the paper reads as under;
In a recent book, Jonathan Zittrain shows how the government might use technology to “preempt” violations of criminal law and regulatory rules. For example, the state might require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to illicit material like child pornography. Such preemption differs markedly from traditional law enforcement methods, in which violations are punished after they occur. Due to advances in technology and a shift towards anticipatory approaches for preventing harm, preemption is increasingly feasible and important.

Yet, Zittrain argues persuasively that preemption poses serious risks as compared to traditional law enforcement methods. Zittrain admits, however, that “our instincts for when we object to such code are not well formed.” The goal of this article is to further develop those instincts. Towards that end, this article compares preemption to other approaches for law enforcement and regulation. After putting preemption in context through these comparisons, this article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of preemption. 
 As it would be evident, great emphasis has been placed on the role of information technology which can be utilized towards carrying out preemptive action and thus protect the society from the crime even before it is committed. An interesting idea, worth exploring.

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