California is the latest in an increasingly long line of states which are creating specialist law enforcement agencies to deal with cyber crime.
In a recent statement, California State Attorney General Kamala Harrise said,
Today’s criminals increasingly use the Internet, smartphones, and other digital devices to victimize people online and offline. I am creating the eCrime Unit so that California can be a leader in using innovative law enforcement techniques to target these criminals.
The huge increase in cyber crime and other technology related criminal activity was the main inspiration behind the creation of the new law enforcement team. A recent survey carried out by the Federal Trade Commission showed that in relation to identity theft, California was ranked number 1 in the entire United States. The FTC report stated that over one million residents of the golden state had been victim to identity theft in 2010 and that the state lost an estimated $46 million from identity theft.
The new eCrime Unit will be focusing in catching not only identity thieves, but also other technology related criminals as well. The types of crimes the unit will take responsibility for investigating includes fraud via the internet such as phishing and email scams; exploitation of minors such as child pornography and grooming minors for sex; hacking both networks and software; digital piracy and other intellectual property crimes; and also stalking and harassment online. Harrise said in a newspaper interview,
Where there are predators and predatory practices, we want to ensure we have the skills and technology to go after them and that there is accountability and consequences.
The specialist unit has a total of twenty attorneys and investigators in the team at the moment although Ms Harrise says that the number of staff will grow with the unit. It is claimed that the attorney general has redistributed resources from within her own office to strengthen the eCrime Unit. The unit has actually been operating for a few months now and is already beginning to play a major role in large investigations.
It is hoped that the creation of the eCrime unit will put an end to the previous ambiguity that surrounded these types of crimes due to unclear policy and jurisdiction which often resulted in the prosecution of technology related criminals being unnecessarily slow due to confusion over how to proceed.
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