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April 28, 2003

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SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Joe Simitian’s Assembly Bill 49, a bill to create the California Cyber Crimes Task Force, was passed by the State Assembly today and is now headed to the State Senate. Assembly Bill (AB) 49 aligns California’s High Technology Theft Apprehension and Prosecution Program with the national Homeland Security Act to create a truly statewide system, and makes California eligible for federal anti-terrorism funding.

AB 49 creates the California Cyber Cop program, with five regional programs in the Silicon Valley, Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, and the Sacramento Valley.  High-tech crimes addressed by the program include sexual exploitation of children over the Internet, cyber-terrorism of banking and other financial infrastructures, stalking, counterfeiting, and identity theft. 

“High-tech crime is the fastest-growing crime in America,” observed Simitian (D-Palo Alto), “and high-tech detective work is necessary in the investigations of crimes ranging from the most violent murders to common fraud. The Cyber Crime Task Forces created by AB 49 will provide a new level of expertise that should result in quicker apprehension and prosecution of cyber criminals.”

Redwood City Police Chief Carlos Bolanos said, “Here in Redwood City, we’re home to companies that are on the cutting edge of new technology. Unfortunately, criminals are always looking for new ways to exploit that technology. I’m hoping Assemblyman Simitian’s bill gets signed into law. It will give those of us in law enforcement yet another resource to combat high-tech crime.”

Assembly Bill 49 updates the mission of the state high-tech law enforcement program and provides statutory authorization to the program to protect public utilities and computer systems located within California.  The bill will protect state facilities against cyber-terrorism and enable the state’s high-tech detectives to investigate computer intrusions similar to last year’s breach of the Teale Data Center, which affected 265,000 state employees.

Santa Clara County District Attorney George Kennedy voiced his support for AB 49. He called it an “intelligent bill” and said, “these task forces will be a valuable resource to prosecutors.” Kennedy added, “Of course, it’s important for our law enforcement institutions to keep up with the pace of new technology. Simitian’s bill will help ensure we have the tools we need to fight crime in the 21st century.”

AB 49 builds on previous work done by Simitian to combat high tech crime. In 2001, Simitian’s AB 821 authorized grants to local law enforcement programs to train prosecutors, investigators and officers to combat high-tech crime.  It also included financial experts on the State’s High Technology Crime Advisory Committee, an expertise that needed to be at the table given the large number of high tech financial crimes that occur every year.