A systematic review protocol for crime trends facilitated by synthetic biology.


DAWES Centre for Future Crime at UCL, Jill Dando Institute for Security and Crime Science, 35 Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9EZ, UK. [Email]


BACKGROUND : When new technologies are developed, it is common for their crime and security implications to be overlooked or given inadequate attention, which can lead to a 'crime harvest'. Potential methods for the criminal exploitation of biotechnology need to be understood to assess their impact, evaluate current policies and interventions and inform the allocation of limited resources efficiently. Recent studies have illustrated some of the security implications of biotechnology, with outcomes of misuse ranging from compromised computers using malware stored in synthesised DNA, infringement of intellectual property on biological matter, synthesis of new threatening viruses, 'genetic genocide,' and the exploitation of food markets with genetically modified crops. However, there exists no synthesis of this information, and no formal quality assessment of the current evidence. This review therefore aims to establish what current and/or predicted crimes have been reported as a result of biotechnology.
METHODS : A systematic review will be conducted to identify relevant literature. ProQuest, Web of Science, MEDLINE and USENIX will be searched utilizing a predefined search string, and Backward and Forward searches. Grey literature will be identified by searching the official UK Government website (www.gov.uk) and the Global database of Dissertations and Theses. The review will be conducted by screening title/abstracts followed by full texts, utilising pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria. Papers will be managed using Eppi-center Reviewer 4 software, and data will be organised using a data extraction table using a descriptive coding tool. A predefined rating system (speculative, experimental or currently occurring) will be used to sort studies, and a thematic synthesis of the results will be presented.
CONCLUSIONS : Despite the concerns raised about the misuse of biotechnology, no previous work has been conducted from a Crime Science perspective to collate and assess the literature. This systematic review aims to identify the types of offending activity facilitated by biotechnology, including synthetic biology and genetic engineering. The objective of the review is to examine whether this offending activity can be prevented by assessing the conditions necessary for the crime events to occur. It is anticipated that evidence generated from this review will guide future research in this area and aid relevant stakeholders to prioritise and allocate limited resources to biotechnology crime prevention.


Biocrime,Biotechnology,Emerging crime trends,Future crime,Methods,Systematic review,

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