The Finnish Internet Police (Nettipoliisi): towards the development of a real cyber police
This article discusses the advantages and the practical and legal limits of the use of social media and computer technology in police services through the experience of the Finnish Internet police (Nettipoliisi). Particular attention is given to the use of social media as a medium of performing virtual community policing and as a tool to carry out ordinary police work.
Nettipoliisi started as a virtual community policing unit specialized in social media, but in time expanded its range of action, incorporating reactive and proactive functions. This shift is analysed in the second part of the article. The article is intended to create discussion and stimulate further research to find answers to the question whether it is the possible to create a new type of law enforcement service, a cyber police operating on the Web with the same function and power of a regular police officer. Domestic and international legal issues involving cyber policing are taken into consideration and recommendations to lawmakers are given. Furthermore, the possibility of implementing the Nettipoliisi model to an international scenario is briefly examined.
Keywords: virtual community policing; social media; cyber police; crime prevention; Nettipoliisi; Finland