Cracking Down on Computer Crimes

Aug 7, 2013

A bill that would have helped crackdown on Internet predators that was shot down during the last General Assembly session is now being restructured so that it has a chance of survival NEXT session. 

The bill's co-sponsor believes the measure would give law enforcement a much-needed tool to pursue and prosecute those who might otherwise get away with the unthinkable.

Dozens of investigations involving child sexual predators sit on the books or are tossed out because of loopholes within the system. Because many criminals—not just sexual predators—conduct their business on the Internet, the investigative and prosecutorial process could span multiple jurisdictions. So when an officer from Northern Virginia obtains a warrant for an offender in Western Virginia, he must be very specific about what he's asking for, or risk losing his case.  

Delegate Michael Webert says that’s why the bill is needed.

"The bill as it stands now I believe accomplishes the goal, which is to streamline the search and seizure process for the state police, when they go into search a computer for a child predator or
child porn and that computer has to go to another locality," he said.

But it was referred to the Computer Crimes advisory panel due to some concerns.

"There were privacy concerns from businesses such as internet companies and banks.  There were concerns as to 4th amendment issues."

Webert says they believe the new language addresses all of the issues, and the bill will be resubmitted in the 2014 session, where he thinks it has a better chance of passing.