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Sarlo / Buono Bill To Give Police Tools To Track Criminals On Internet

Expanding Info Provided to Police Will Better Identify E-Criminals

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Paul A. Sarlo and Barbara Buono which would require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to disclose certain identifying information to law enforcement agencies investigating a crime was approved by the Senate yesterday by a vote of 38-0, receiving final legislative approval.

“Unscrupulous individuals are turning to Internet crime, because it’s become very hard to track down the criminals’ identities,” said Senator Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic. “We want to respect the privacy of citizens, but at the same time, we cannot give criminals a loophole large enough to drive a truck through. By asking ISPs to cooperate with police officers to investigate wrong-doing, we are finding the middle ground between a legitimate law enforcement need and the freedoms of law-abiding citizens.”

“Preliminary information from ISP companies suggest that they have no problem working with law enforcement to uncover crimes,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “However, without this bill, they could be open for legal action, and the evidence obtained may be thrown out, due to the very unregulated nature of the Internet. This bill gives ISPs the freedom to do what is right and just, by providing invaluable information to police officers to close the case on electronic crimes.”

The bill, S-2630, would expand current law to increase the type of information ISPs are required to provide to law enforcement. The new regulations would require that ISPs disclose records of Internet activity session times and durations, the means through which a client is purchasing the service and any relevant credit card or bank account number, network address numbers, and the start date of the service. According to the bill, this information, as well as any other info already required under law, would only be available after a grand jury or trial subpoena are obtained.

“Internet crime has become a plague on the law enforcement community, because of the criminals’ ability to disappear into the data-stream,” said Senator Sarlo. “Police officers have had to get creative in the way they prosecute and investigate e-crime. With the full cooperation of ISPs, police will be able to track and prosecute many e-criminals who would have otherwise slipped through their grasp before.”

“To be truly effective, law enforcement has to constantly adopt to the technological trends of the time,” said Senator Buono. “Unfortunately, as technology moves forward to make life easier for all of us, it also makes life easier for criminals to lure children, steal, and commit identity fraud. However, we can give police the tools to combat criminals’ increasing reliance on technology, and giving them access to ISPs’ records when investigating a crime will improve their effectiveness in prosecuting internet crime.”

The bill now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.

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