Attorney General Envisions Crime-Fighting Collaboration
Attorney General Janet Reno recently proposed a cooperative network that would enable law enforcement agencies nationwide to share information on electronic crimes.
Attorney General Janet Reno recently proposed a cooperative network that
would enable law enforcement agencies nationwide to share information on
The proposal, delivered at a meeting of the National Association of
Attorneys General, calls on state attorneys general to set up an around-the-clock
network of computer crime agents within every state, enabling authorities
who uncover a crime in one state to work quickly with counterparts in other
states to track down cybercriminals.
Reno's proposal came amid news reports that a computer hacker had stolen
300,000 credit card numbers through Internet music retailer CD Universe
and posted some of the numbers on the World Wide Web.
"While the Internet and other information technologies are bringing
enormous benefits to society, they also provide new opportunities for criminal
behavior," Reno said. "The Internet changes everything — and it's changing
law enforcement in dramatic ways."
Bubby Moser, executive director of the National Sheriffs' Association,
said he supports Reno's proposal for a cooperative network on cybercrimes — dubbed LawNet by Reno.
"All this [communication] has to be in place," Moser said. "And [Reno]
is right on top of it."
Moser said plans for a network should encompass all levels of law enforcement — from local governments to federal agencies to foreign law enforcement
organizations. An international scope to sharing cybercrime information
is emerging, with the Justice Department recently setting up an information-sharing
network on cybercrime with G-8 nations.
Reno's proposal also includes developing a secure online clearinghouse
of information that federal, state and local law enforcement agents can
access to share information on pending cases, potential targets of computer
crime and contact personnel for crimes on the Internet.
Moreover, the proposal suggests the creation of regional computer forensics
labs that would enable state and local law enforcement agencies to pool
resources to investigate computer crimes. It also calls on states to work
on jurisdictional issues when cybercrimes involve more than one state.
"I think this [proposal] is a good idea. One of the problems has been
venue issues," said Michael Anderson, president of Gresham, Ore.-based New
Technologies Inc., a computer forensics firm that works with state, local
and federal law enforcement agencies.
Anderson said figuring out which law enforcement agency has jurisdiction
proves a challenge when a cybercriminal is in one state and the victim is
in another. "The first thing to do is to get communications going between
the different states. The jurisdictional issues will follow," he said.
Communicating quickly is important in cybercases because electronic
evidence can disappear fast as data on high-traffic Internet servers get
replaced by fresh data. "What happens in these things is you have to move
very quickly before the evidence goes away," Anderson said.
Reno has urged state attorneys general to develop a framework for LawNet
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