Seattle - April 27, 2000 - State, federal and local law enforcement officials today announced plans to combat crime and fraud on the Internet.
The initiative will expand law enforcement's ability to prevent or quickly investigate and prosecute on-line crime, said Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire.
"The Internet, which holds so much promise for e-commerce, entertainment and research, also has a dark side inhabited by child molesters, con men, and hate mongers," said Gregoire. "The message we are sending today is that law enforcement in Washington has teamed up to fight Internet crime and abuse."
Local law enforcement agencies say they do not have the expertise or resources to respond to a growing number of Internet complaints. In response, law enforcement agencies formed a new partnership entitled, Computer Law Enforcement of Washington (CLEW). Its members include the Washington State Attorney General's Office, U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI, Washington State Patrol, Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, and the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
"The Internet does not recognize state or even national political boundaries, so cooperation between law enforcement is imperative," said Kate Pflaumer, U.S. Attorney for Western Washington. "We in Washington have a long tradition of cooperation among law enforcement. It is our goal to make this state an unsafe place to commit crime over the Internet."
Members signed a cooperative agreement pledging to share resources and work cooperatively across jurisdictions. Specifically, CLEW will:
- Provide a law enforcement response to high tech crime complaints 24 hours a day seven days a week;
- Share expertise, resources, and training to help local law enforcement investigate and prosecute Internet crimes;
- Seek funding for a computer forensics lab which is essential for investigating and prosecuting Internet crimes; and
- Suggest legislation to help prosecute on-line crime.
The Attorney General's Office also has formed a strike team of attorneys and investigators to focus on Internet related crime. The new high tech unit will prosecute consumer protection and criminal cases as well as provide expertise to local law enforcement on Internet crimes. It is also developing a first-in-the-nation mediation program where consumers and businesses can attempt to resolve conflicts on-line.
"Washington is a national leader in high technology," said Gregoire. "It's only natural that our state be similarly innovative in fighting crime or resolving consumer issues."
In that same vein, Gregoire said her office will team with the University of Washington to launch a new clearinghouse web site to help people avoid on-line fraud and crimes. From the site consumers can: remove their names from marketing lists, file an on-line complaint, research up-to-date consumer and criminal justice issues, and get tips for kids and parents to help them safely surf the net. Soon, the site will expand to include teen consumer education lessons for teachers in streaming video and training materials for law enforcement.
"Our ultimate goal is to be a one-stop shopping point for consumers, law enforcement, and educators," said Gregoire. "We're starting modestly but will continue to grow."