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The Criminal Justice Response and Development Strategy in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Ⅰ) Autonomous Vehicle and Drone
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December 01, 2018


The 4th industrial revolution will fuse reality with virtuality to optimize not only the product production methods but also human lifestyles. Such optimization will be realized in 4 stages of datafication, digitization, intellectualization, and smartification. In short, for instance, it is hard to find the optimal driving path and expect arrival time just with one single automobile in reality, but, in the virtual world, information on location or road collected from individual automobiles is fused together to produce the necessary information, which, in turn, is provided to cars for each automobile to drive on the optimized routes. Moreover, through such a method, the 4th industrial revolution can transform factories, farms and cities themselves smarter as well as transportation. Based on the information technology development, the 4th industrial revolution which will be led by cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, robot engineering, autonomous vehicles, drones, Internet of Things, 3D printing and bioengineering, is expected to bring about sea changes beyond comparison with any of those under previous industrial revolutions. State-of-the-art scientific technology development, in particular, would have a huge impact on not only the industrial sectors but also the area of crime. Thus, crimes could be further sophisticated, causing enormous damages. For instance, artificial intelligence such as the technology to produce a specific person’s voice or facial expression, etc. may be abused in voice phishing. Unmanned autonomous vehicles or small drones could change the pattern of terrorism. Cyber attacks on a specific device connected through IoT could lead to damage on another device on the network or the network itself. On the other hand, it is also necessary to talk about new criminal legal issues emerging from the process of cutting-edge scientific technology application. For example, how to judge the act of inputting a large amount of bad data intentionally into an AI service program a company has long developed by investing large capital to devalue the service or make it useless? Can sexual harassment in the virtual reality be recognized? Of the major technologies that would lead the 4th industrial revolution, autonomous vehicle and drone which will be commercialized soon enough should be reviewed first in terms of relevant criminal legal issues and law establishment and amendment. In the case of autonomous vehicle, to facilitate communication on relevant technologies and policies as well as promote cooperation, classification and definition of each autonomous driving technology development stage are being presented. SAE J3016 suggested by the Society of Automotive Engineers International(SAE International) in 2014 has been utilized commonly. The standard classifies autonomous technologies into 5 stages. Presently, in the US, Waymo has realized complete 5th-stage automation technology and been providing autonomous-driving taxi service without a human driver. Compared with other automobile powerhouse countries, South Korea is viewed as a late starter in the autonomous vehicle development area. The 3rd-stage autonomous driving technology is on the test run for commercialization in the country while implementing research to develop 4th and 5th stage technologies. Since, in the 4th and 5th stages, the system plays as a driver and is responsible for any damage, legal responsibility could be relatively easily identified in the event of an accident. The problem is the 3rd stage autonomous vehicle where both a human driver and system play as a driver, in parallel. In the event of an accident under the system operation mode, if a human driver could not be held accountable, there could be a void of responsibility. In this situation, it is necessary to incorporate into the Road Traffic Act a separate set of provisions on the 3rd stage autonomous vehicles. First, it is needed to establish a separate set of provisions on the 3rd stage autonomous vehicles and set up the duty of care of relevant people specialized in autonomous vehicles. Given the technological characteristics of autonomous vehicles, in particular, manufacturers’ duty of explanation or specific compliance should be reinforced. Special duty of care on human drivers should also be clarified that they should take back the duty again upon system warning while escaping from the duty of typical car driving. Furthermore, for accountability identification, there should be a provision obligating the installation of a device corresponding to a black box in autonomous vehicles, including details such as the type of information to be recorded in the device, information storage period and its transmission. On the other hand, in the case of autonomous vehicle seizure and search, the rule of warrant is also applied, in principle, and the warrant can be issued with information that can differentiate itself from other cars such as car number. The issue is if the conventional way of warrant execution is applicable to autonomous vehicles. In the current legal regime, a warrant executing institution must present the seizure and search warrant to a person in question in advance. However, if it is practically impossible to present a warrant because, for instance, the person in question is not in the place or is not found there, conducting seizure and search without presenting the warrant is not a law violation. Considering that, in the material sense, warrant presentation is for the person in question to recognize the warrant details and scope, it is requested to introduce an electronic warrant system to follow the rule of warrant more thoroughly. Moreover, in preparation for autonomous vehicle commercialization, it is needed to recognize if there is any human passenger in the vehicle or not and clarify warrant execution procedures accordingly. For its execution, technological measures will be also needed for the judicial police, etc. to stop the autonomous system. Another emerging key industry in the 4th industrial revolution era is the drone sector which also challenges the traditional idea of responsibility. Drones can be utilized for diverse purposes including logistics, holding a great growth potential, but also has a huge risk caused by it. In this situation, how to make criminal legal responses also needs to be discussed. First of all, in the event of crime of an aviation traffic obstruction, the act of aviation traffic obstruction by a drone could belong to this area. But the act of obstructing a drone could be partially applicable and partially not. As an object of action of the element, unmanned planes are included in the kind of airplane but drones, as a wireless flying device, do not. Therefore, a legislative measure is necessary to govern the act of disturbing a drone itself as an unmanned flying device. Next, it is an issue whether looking into a house using a drone with a high-performance built-in camera establishes housebreaking in criminal code and its victims can be protected under the law. The benefit of protecting victims of housebreaking under the criminal code is the virtual peace of residence and trespassing into a house in violation of the virtual peace could be done using a drone as a means. But it is difficult to see it as housebreaking just as an external flying object of drone entered in a place and its operator watched inside the house through the eyes of the camera. If such a case is seen as trespassing, looking into a house through telescope should be also trespassing. Trespassing assumes that a person enters a protected space without or against the opinion of a rightful person and the person physically crosses the boundary. Therefore, it cannot be said that the criminal code protects people from drones as an unmanned flying device or unmanned plane through the elements of housebreaking crime. On the other hand, if the necessity for criminal code intervention in reconnaissance activity using a drone is focused mainly on spying and reconnaissance, the object of protection from spying or reconnaissance should be more focused rather than trying to gain protection through housebreaking elements. In individuals, drone reconnaissance could infringe their private life as privacy, which is the object of protection. The only means of protection related to personal privacy is those under privacy invasion and trade secret disclosure. That is, the current criminal code does not have any element protecting privacy violable by drone reconnaissance. To prevent the serious absence of punishment, therefore, it is necessary to establish the corresponding elements. On the other hand, to recognize criminal death and injury by (occupational) negligence of operators of subminiature drones utilized for private purposes, a certain set of duty of care imposed under the Aviation Safety Act should be made into rules first. But, in the case of negligence property damage, only vehicle damage is applicable under the Road Traffic Act. Thus, a separate set of elements should be arranged to punish negligence property damage using drones. Furthermore, if a drone operator is drunken while operating, applicable provisions should be set up for criminal punishment. Even if a drunken drone driving crime is newly established, however, subminiature drones (dead weight less than 12kg and length less than 7m) could be excluded from the regulation. It needs to be carefully discussed whether such a case should be punished by making a separate crime such as drunken drone driving or illegal use. Drones can be subject to seizure and search in the criminal procedure. Just as in the case of autonomous vehicles, if an e-warrant system is introduced, the rule of warrant would be followed more thoroughly. Moreover, drones can be utilized as a means of criminal justice procedure. Drones could be more easily used in areas other than those under control by warrant such as court verification or a criminal taken in an act of crime. But in most other areas, warrant-based control is required in reality and it is only natural to protect the basic rights. Against this backdrop, in order to utilize drones as a criminal procedural means, the Criminal Procedure Code should be amended to include drones as a means in the existing warrant scheme and management rules should be established for drones utilized by criminal justice institutions.

Jeeyoung Yun

Public Safety and Crime Prevention, Criminal Law&Policy

Senior Research Fellow

Jeeyoung Yun's picture

Research Interest (Major)

Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Criminal Policy

Report List

A Study on the Criminal Appeal

Strenghtening Korean Criminal Justice System Applying Forensic Science (Ⅷ): Artifical Intelligence Technology

The Criminal Justice Response and Development Strategy in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Ⅰ) Autonomous Vehicle and Drone

The Criminal Justice Response and Development Strategy in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Ⅱ) : The Internet of Things(IoT) and Blockchain

Pre-Sentence Investigation in Korea

Enhancing the Human Rights Support of the Ministry of Justice in Korea

Public Participation in the Preceding Stage of a Criminal Trial

Evaluation of Criminal Law Legislation by the 20th National Assembly and Further Challenges

The Criminal Justice Response and Development Strategy in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Ⅲ) : Virtual Reality(VR) and 3D Printing

Application of Videoconferencing System in Criminal Proceedings

Strengthening the Forensic Science in Korean Criminal Justice System(Ⅳ)

Strenghtening the Korean Criminal Justice System Applying Forensic Science (V)

A Study on the Criminal Liability of Companies Profiting from Illegal Activities

UN∙International Cooperation and Research for Crime Prevention(XI): Criminal Justice Policy for Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative Ⅰ- Northeast Asia Regional System for Human Rights Protection in Criminal Procedure

Strenghtening the Application of Forensic Science in Korean Criminal Justice System(Ⅵ)

Criminal Compensation System : Operation Condition and Suggestion for Improvement

Diversifying Sanctions against Corporate Illegality

Strenghtening the Korean Criminal Justice System Applying Forensic Science (Ⅶ): Response to Environmental Crime in the Time of Climate Change Crisis

Jungho Lim

Criminal Law&Policy

Research Fellow

Jungho Lim's picture

Research Interest (Major)


Report List

A Study on the Criminal Liability of Companies Profiting from Illegal Activities

Criminal Justice Polices and Judicial Systems (ⅩⅣ): Evaluation Research and Legislative Improvement on the Video Recording System in Criminal Procedure

A Study on Rational Application Plan for ‘Publication of Facts of Suspected Crime’

Circumstances and Countermeasures of Unlawful Practices of Law (Ⅱ) - Focusing on the Reality of Corruption Committed by 'Attorney-At-Law Retired From Public Office' and Its Countermeasures

Improving the Prevention System of Corruption in the Private Sector

The Criminal Justice Response and Development Strategy in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Ⅰ) Autonomous Vehicle and Drone

Critical Review of Criminal Justice Bills During the 19th National Assembly of Korea: Outcomes and Challenges

Strenghtening the Korean Criminal Justice System Applying Forensic Science (Ⅶ): Response to Environmental Crime in the Time of Climate Change Crisis

Diversifying Sanctions against Corporate Illegality

Minhwa Lee

Minhwa Lee's picture

Report List

Seongdon Kim

Seongdon Kim's picture

Report List

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Korean Institute of Criminology Official Video

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