Reno: Law Enforcement Not Prepared for Cybercrime

WASHINGTON (03/10/2000) - Law enforcement agencies are generally out-gunned in the battle against cybercrime, according to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

They need weapons such as real-time tracking of Internet users, the ability to locate wireless phones and the ability to identify anonymous e-mailers to better catch criminals on the Internet .

In a lengthy report released Thursday, Reno said the Internet presents a complicated problem for law enforcement. It allows anonymous cybercriminals to operate across international borders, to strike and vanish in an instant.

Reno wants to strike back with better coordination among local, national and international police and greater assistance from the Internet industry.

"The Internet provides a vast, inexpensive, and potentially anonymous way" for criminals to commit fraud, distribute child pornography, sell guns and drugs and steal computer software or other creative material, she said.

Reno acknowledged that efforts to crack down on Internet crime inevitably will clash with public expectations of privacy.

Although society has strong interests in investigating and prosecuting crime, it also has strong interests in free speech, protecting reasonable expectations of privacy, providing broad access to public information and supporting legitimate commerce, she said.

Reno did not suggest how both interests might be served, except to say that regulations "should be carefully tailored" to avoid stifling the Internet's growth or its use for free and open communication.

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