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California Attorney General Kamala Harris has officially announced the creation of a statewide eCrime unit. The unit is composed of 20 investigators and prosecutors who will focus their efforts on cyber crime. This includes Internet scams, identity theft, child pornography and intellectual property infringement.
This is not California's first foray into law enforcement tech -- there are five regional task forces that operate under the High Technology Theft Apprehension and Prosecution Program. The new eCrime unit will help coordinate their efforts as well as any multi-state investigations.
This is a big step for California, which has the highest identity theft rate in the country.
Over 1 million California residents fall victim each year, reports the New York Times. Ten of the top 25 worst cities for such theft are also located within the state.
Cyber crime is incredibly difficult to prosecute for a number of reasons. Local law enforcement often lacks the technological knowledge needed to investigate. Criminals weave a complex web and are often difficult to track down.
Because cyber crime is multi-jurisdictional, there are also often questions about who should be spearheading an investigation or prosecution. Such confusion even occurs within states, explains the San Francisco Chronicle.
While California's new eCrime unit is perhaps the biggest and broadest out there, it is not unique. Texas and Florida have cyber crime units that focus on child pornography and exploitation, reports the Times. Louisiana has a unit that focuses on a wide range of cyber crimes, too.
If California sees success with its eCrime Unit, you can expect to see similar units pop up across the country. As criminals become more sophisticated, law enforcement will need to catch up.