INTERNET SAFETY FOR TEENAGERS
The Internet has developed into a valuable informational resource for all of us, especially our children. In fact, all schools nowadays require them to master the power of the Internet for their schoolwork. And yet the Internet also exposes our children to many potential dangers, from online predators to cyberbullying to sexting, even performing illegal activity themselves both knowingly and unknowingly.
To make matters worse, as the Internet evolves so do the dangers to our children. For example, social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook have only been around a very short time. Another complicating factor is the naivete our children bring to the use of such web sites. Often they readily place personal, identifying information about themselves out on the Internet which can easily be found by those who intend to do them harm.
In response, District Attorney Kathleen Rice makes available to our County residents prosecutors from her office who investigate and prosecute online crimes. These prosecutors routinely speak at schools and other youth groups to warn our children against the dangers posed to them by the Internet and also provide similar information to parent groups as well.
These presentations are done in PowerPoint format and include actual demonstrations of the dangers that currently exist. The children are more captivated by this approach because they can relate better when they are viewing the Internet world they so routinely see every day, and for the parents, it often opens their eyes to a part of the Internet world they rarely, if ever, see.
Technology Crime Unit
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s Technology Crime Unit (TCU) combines every component of the Investigative Division of the Nassau County DA’s Office – prosecutors, undercover investigators, computer forensic examiners, accountants, IT personnel, paralegals and other support staff – to investigate and prosecute computer and online crimes.
Created in 1997, the TCU is one of the first of its kind in the country and one of the most experienced, and works closely with the Computer Crime Units of both the Nassau County Police Department and the New York State Police in assisting them with their investigations and arrests.
The TCU also participates in nationwide initiatives specifically geared towards fighting cybercrime against children. As a member of Project Safe Childhood, one of the Assistant DAs assigned to the TCU has been appointed a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and assists in the federal prosecution of online sexual predators, particularly when the penalties available to prosecutors in federal court greatly exceed those currently available under New York law.
The TCU is one of only a handful of law enforcement agencies in New York State to be an affiliate member of the national Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. As such, the TCU has access to funding and the latest training made available through this organization.
The TCU handles every aspect of computer-based crime and has either investigated or assisted in the investigation of: homicides, interstate kidnapping, statutory rapes, numerous child pornography distribution rings, an ongoing undercover sting of online sexual predators of teenagers (called “Operation Teensaver”), multi-million dollar software counterfeiting, multi-million dollar fraudulent acquisition of federally-subsidized student grants and loans, international identity theft rings, the sale of a baby, creation of false identification, fraudulent sales over the Internet, computer intrusions, theft of computer data, software licensing infringement, cyberstalking, cyberbullying and cyberspoofing.
TCU staff members routinely appear at community functions throughout Nassau County to provide information about Internet crime and safety, including schools, various youth groups, local libraries, PTAs, teachers’ conferences, etc. Our most frequently requested lecture to such groups is “Internet Safety for Teenagers” in which a wide range of topics are covered, such as cyberbullying, social networking sites, online predators, sexting, information security and teenagers engaging in illegal acts.
Prosecutors assigned to the TCU are also recognized across the country as leading experts on the laws and investigative methods used to fight cybercrime. They are frequently asked to train other law enforcement personnel at state and nationwide conferences, which also allows them to learn new ideas, laws and investigative techniques from other areas of the country.