STANFORD, Calif. (AP) 1/11/00 -- Cyberfraud. Hacking. E-kiddyporn. These new crimes, a menacing side effect of the Internet age, require creation of a national computer network that would allow law enforcement to swoop across jurisdictions and catch cybercriminals in the act, according to Attorney General Janet Reno.
"The Internet is indeed a splendid tool of wonder, but there is a dark side of hacking, crashing networks and viruses that we absolutely must address," Reno told several hundred members of the National Association of Attorneys General at Stanford University on Monday.
Reno rolled out details of what she called "LawNet," an online law enforcement agency that could cross local, state and even international borders with warrants, subpoenas and requests for information.
She said the agency, led by an around-the-clock team of computer and law enforcement experts, should be able to work quickly and without the red tape that can slow investigations.
"I envision a network that extends from local detectives to the FBI to investigators abroad," said Reno.
A key part of LawNet would be regional forensic computer laboratories where files and data could be shared. In addition, she said, LawNet could coordinate the sharing of expensive technological devices.
She also proposed a new interstate compact to ensure enforcement of out-of-state subpoenas and warrants stemming from Internet investigations.
The growth in e-commerce is creating opportunities for cybercrime. An FBI survey of Fortune 500 companies found 62 percent reported computer security breaches during the past year, she said.
The LawNet proposal partially addresses a directive President Clinton issued last year to encourage law enforcement and crucial industries in the country to set up information-sharing networks.
Attorneys at the conference responded to the LawNet proposal with a standing ovation and said they need new tools.
"I'm very enthusiastic about this plan to get us all together," said California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, adding that jurisdictional issues will be particularly important to decide. "There are a lot of questions about which law applies, and even who is going to enforce that law."
Reno said LawNet would attempt to handle many of those jurisdictional questions.
The network also would focus on privacy issues, protecting consumers from invasions like the CD Universe extortion case, Reno said. In that instance, a hacker stole credit card numbers from the Internet music retailer and posted them on a Web site after CD Universe refused to pay the hacker $100,000.
"It is perhaps not Big Brother we should be worried about, but big browser," said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. "We need to be fearful that the aggregation of information, if it is misused, is very terrifying."
Written By Martha Mendoza - 13-01-00