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Groups urge states to tackle more cybercrime
Published: 2008-08-14

Most top state prosecutors have failed to focus efforts on cybercrimes outside of high-profile child pornography and sexual predator cases, two technology policy groups stated in a report released this week.

The report, which collected information about consumer complaints from 30 states, found that 24 states had an Internet-related category in their top-10 list of complaints, and in four states, Internet-related complaints topped the list. For most states, the complaints consisted of problems with Internet auctions or Internet sales, with few states collecting information about spyware, spam or phishing attacks, according to the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and the Center for American Progress (CAP), the two groups that published the report (pdf).

Yet, despite the broad problems of cybercrime, cases highlighted in the Cybercrime Newsletter published by the National Associate of Attorneys General (NAAG) showed a focus on cases of child predation, with 62 percent of cases discussed in the publication involving sexual enticement of minors or child pornography, the report stated.

"Online consumers are now at risk," Ari Schwartz, vice president and chief operating officer at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said in a statement. "Internet crime costs basically nothing to execute, can be highly lucrative, and involves little risk of being caught and punished. We need all 50 state attorneys general focused on this problem. Through committed action and vigorous enforcement, they can provide a powerful and much needed deterrent."

The U.S. government has increasingly put resources toward fighting increasingly lucrative cybercrimes. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictment of eleven individually thought to be responsible for breaking into and stealing credit cards from the networks of major retail stores. The FBI has also focused -- under Operation Bot Roast I and II -- on finding and charging criminals that use botnets to steal data and collect ad revenue.

The CDT and the Center for American Progress highlighted California, New York, Texas, and Washington as states that were expending efforts fighting cybercrime. The groups also recommended that the offices of the Attorneys General improve their data collection practices.

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Posted by: Robert Lemos
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