Durbin and Secret Service unveil Electronic Crimes Task Force
ChicagoU.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced on May 20 the formation of Chicagos Electronic Crimes Task Force, a joint venture between the Secret Service, law enforcement, the business community and academia to prevent and prosecute cyber crime.
Durbin, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Appropriations Committee, is leading the charge with U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to provide funding for the expansion of the electronic crimes task forces in the supplemental appropriations bill.
We learned on September 11 that U.S. crime-fighting techniques must advance alongside the technology used by criminals. With this task force, the U.S. Secret Service can develop expertise in utilizing electronic evidence to identify and prevent Internet security breaches, identity theft, financial data theft and other types of fraud, Durbin said at Chicagos U.S. Secret Service headquarters, where he was joined by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
The Chicago-based branch of U.S. Secret Service operations will be part of a national electronic crime prevention network with partners operating similar task forces in eight cities across the country. The expansion of the task forces, authorized by the USA Patriot Act of 2001, is modeled on the New York Electronic Crimes Task Force and will also be replicated in Boston, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
The USA Patriot Act, passed in October. 2001, aimed to tighten homeland security through enhanced tools for protection, detection and investigation of terrorism. In response to the new law, the U.S. Secret Service is piloting the program in eight cities and will add other regions and cities in the near future. Durbin has introduced an amendment to the supplemental appropriations bill that would provide $17.2 million for the program. On May 14, 14 senators joined Durbin in writing a letter to Senate Appropriations Chafrrnan Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) supporting $17.2 million for the project.
The $17.2 million in funding would be used to train agents assigned to the task force, train local law enforcement partners participating in the program, hire additional personnel and purchase equipment. The U.S. House of Representatives supplemental appropriations bill included $10.35 million for the task forces, but Durbin believes the program should receive its full funding request.
Identity theft, for example, has become the fastest-growing form of white-collar crime in the United States. In January, the Federal Trade Commission reported that 42 percent of the 204,000 complaints lodged to the agency in 2001 involved identity theft, and the commission expects the number of annual cases to triple by 2005.
The partnership with corporations, financial institutions and academia will allow the Secret Service and law enforcement to reach out to these communities to teach them how to prevent network intrusion and how to better safeguard their data systems. In addition, the Secret Service hopes to build a trusting relationship where businesses are more likely to report cyber crimes to the agency and to local law enforcement without fear of investor backlash.
Technologys rapid growth has invited new opportunities for those who seek to attack the infrastructure of government agencies, corporations and financial institutions, making them vulnerable to cyber crime and to potential terrorist attacks. I urge my colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee to support full funding for the Electronic Crimes Task Forces. We must give the Secret Service the necessary tools to fight todays criminal and terrorist threats, Durbin said.