Jersey Taking Hard Look at Computer Crime

Two New Jersey agencies are calling for the state to strengthen its computer crime laws, enhance law enforcement training, and beef up education programs to combat computer-related crime.

Concerned about the proliferation of child sexual abuse, fraud, identity theft, hacking, cyberstalking, espionage and other criminal activities associated with computer use and telecommunications technology, the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) and the Office of the Attorney General teamed to produce a comprehensive evaluation of the threat within New Jersey.

The agencies recently released the report to increase awareness of computer crime among legislators, government officials, teachers, parents and consumers, so all of those groups can contribute to strategies for combatting the problem, said Lee Seglem, SCI executive assistant. "Overall, this puts New Jersey on a sound footing to provide some leadership in this realm to the rest of the nation," he said.

Highlights of reform called for in the report include calls to:

* Strengthen New Jersey's 1984 computer crime law by adding language that defines technological advances consistent with federal statutes.

* Allocate more money to train law enforcement personnel, investigators and civil attorneys.

* Keep compensation for key computer enforcement personnel on a par with private industry.

* Teach students at all levels how to recognize computer crime.

* Provide filtering software in schools and libraries and consider the use of software to track Internet use in schools.

*Develop policies on acceptable Internet use in schools.

* Require Internet access providers to make it easier for law enforcement to gain access to records of customer use.

* Urge the New Jersey legislature to call on the federal government to prevent online vendors and interactive computer services from collecting private information without customer consent and from distributing unsolicited and misleading e-mail.

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