Legal Control over Big Data Criminal Investigation

Social Sciences in China

Vol. 40, No. 3, 2019


Legal Control over Big Data Criminal Investigation



Cheng Lei


The rapid growth of big data technology has become a major trend affecting the pattern of world development. Big data criminal investigation is a new type of criminal detection used extensively in the course of police practice at home and abroad. Its emergence indicates a trend in criminal justice towards ensuring security at the expense of privacy and exchanging rights for information. Big data criminal investigation highlights the backwardness and dysfunction of the traditional framework of legal norms, evident in doubts about the legal attributes of such investigation and the obvious limitations of techniques for distinguishing data content from metadata. This leaves a vacuum in the regulation of investigative power at the preliminary stage of investigation. Big data criminal investigation itself is a double- edge sword; in order to forestall the possible abuses it may entail in terms of deep and broad interventions in basic civil rights, big data criminal investigation should be brought under the necessary legal control. We therefore propose adopting a dual regulatory approach comprising investigative and data norms, selectively adopting the traditional normative framework of the principle of legality and the principle of proportionality, and at the same time supplementing it with other legal principles and mechanisms concerning the protection of personal information and data.


Keywords: big data, big data criminal investigation, data mining, personal information, technical investigative measures