Dot-com deterrent?

The Web is helping crime sleuths in some rather intriguing ways. A 39-year-old attorney was killed here in South Florida earlier this month. Police, claiming they had "overwhelming" evidence, eventually zeroed in on a suspect and made their arrest.

Police revealed two key pieces of that evidence yesterday. The first was that the victim's Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone had been in the suspect's home; they were able to trace it using the smartphone's Web-based GPS. Searching through the alleged killer's computer, they found Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) queries for methods of cleansing hands of pepper spray, a weapon used in subduing the victim.

Did he do it? I'm all for letting a court of law handle the unsettling decision. My point is only that the Internet has evolved into quite the Scooby-Doo caper solver.

Google's YouTube has already led to several arrests and fines for speedsters, gang assaults, and videotaped threats. When someone goes on a shooting rampage or a suicide stunt, how often does the media turn to culprit profile pages on social-networking sites such as Facebook or News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS) MySpace for answers?

Will we ever get to the point where the Internet is a viable crime deterrent?

Lifecasting -- the art of strapping on a portable camcorder and recording every waking moment -- is more of a novelty these days. What if webcam giants Logitech (Nasdaq: LOGI) or Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) were to market portable cameras so small and natural that everyone had them, potentially streaming live footage somewhere in cyberspace? How many crimes would be caught in the act or avoided entirely if surveillance was everywhere?

Too 1984-ish? Too Big Brother? We may as well implant tracking chips in us all! I hear you, but if cops know where your iPod has been and where your Google searches have been going, aren't we already halfway there?

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz doesn't get the allure of Justin.TV lifecasting, but he can recognize a trend, even if he's not part of it. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.