Justice dedicates millions to fight cybercrime

Justice Department officials today sent Congress a fiscal 2001 budget request including hundreds of millions of dollars for information technology projects — from "cybercrime" programs to plans for major new computer systems.

In what portends to be a more liberal budget year for the department, Justice officials are asking Congress to fund projects that will allow law enforcement agents to communicate easier. Department officials have said cooperation and information sharing among agents will lead to greater success in solving crimes.

Requested budget items include:

* $69 million for the Crime Identification Technology program that connects computer systems and wireless communication systems within the law enforcement community.

* $40.84 million to develop the FBI's Information Sharing Initiative that will enable agents to share information easier.

* $1 million for a Justice Online Information Exchange to serve as an interactive network for the criminal justice community.

Initiatives for solving crimes in the Digital Age include:

* $25.3 million so the FBI can conduct what Justice officials say will be "lawful intercepts" in a digital telecommunications environment.

* $10 million for a system to store and manage "lawfully collected electronic surveillance intelligence."

* $11.4 million for Computer Analysis and Response Teams and for developing an Automated Computer Examination System, a data forensics system for examining computer files.

* $6 million for regional computer forensics labs.

Other line items in the budget include $56 million to support the Drug Enforcement Administration; $20 million for the Integrated Surveillance and Intelligence System that the Immigration and Naturalization Service uses to monitor activity on the southwest border; and $14.33 million for Asynchronous Transfer Mode costs for the department's communication network.

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