The special guest speaker at this morning’s keynote was Ronald Noble, Secretary General of INTERPOL, speaking about why speed matters in law enforcement, and using technology to stay a step ahead of the criminals.

He engaged the crowd with very funny and completely deadpan humor, but addressed the very serious topic of how the expedient exchange of information between different countries is a crucial part of law enforcement on an international scale: the two second advantage can mean that an immigration agent has the full background of the person that they’re screening in near real-time, from both local and international databases. I’m not a huge fan of much of the “security theater” that happens in the name of airport security, but having this type of information can make a real difference in terms of identifying people traveling on lost and stolen passports, or tracking the international movements of suspected criminals. How that information is used, however, is where human rights violations can occur (a subject that Noble doesn’t address), since suspicion is not the same as conviction, and not all countries treat those suspected of a crime in a humane manner.

This is one of those areas where technology has moral implications, and the impact of using every bit of data about someone in order to make decisions can be a slippery slope in some cases.

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