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A.G. Conway announces new crime unit

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Kentucky Attorney General’s office launced Cyber Crimes Unit in 2008

By Jonna Spelbring Priester

General Manager

Years ago, criminal investigators had basic tools to help them solve crimes.

Fibers, interviewing notes and more were some of the basic building blocks to solving crime.

Now, according to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, those basic crime solving blocks include electronic processing.

Speaking to members of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce, Conway described the development of the state’s Cyber Crimes Unit. Formed in 2008, the unit investigates online solicitations of minors, scams and identity theft. According to the office’s Web site, an estimated 80 percent of crimes now involve some form of digital forensic evidence.

Awareness about the crimes that can be committed digitally is small, Conway said. “We have a huge public education crisis out there,” he told the group.

But recently, a law passed by the Kentucky General Assembly became the “icing on the cake” for the Cyber Crimes Unit. A Cyber Crimes bill was signed into law by Governor Steve Beshear on March 26.

The bill makes ‘cyberstalking’ a crime, and defines it as “intentionally alarming, annoying, intimidating or harassing a person with no legitimate purpose through electronic communications,” according to a press release from Conway’s office.

Sex offenders also face tougher regulations when they use electronic communications, under the bill. Eventually, Conway said, Kentucky residents will be able to search for registered sex offenders by e-mail.

Conway said last week that cyber crimes can be committed in a variety of ways, including by Web cam.

To prevent children from becoming victims of cyber crimes, Conway urged parents to not let children have computers in their room, and to talk about the language they use. “They’re using an entirely new language,” he said of children.

When asked if he thought the technology used to catch cyber crimes will ever catch up with the technology used to commit those crimes. Conway was direct. “No, but I’ll try,” he said. “It’s universal that the law lacks technology ... but we can’t stay where we are.”

The Cyber Crimes Unit, he said, already has been successful. In just five months, the unit started 13 new child pornography cases, and seized more than 13,000 Kentucky based pictures. Approximately 30 individuals have been arrested for soliciting sex from minors via the internet as well.

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