TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced the designation of CyberCrime Awareness Week, a week named by the Governor and Florida Cabinet to promote awareness of cybercrimes. The week, to be recognized the third week of April, acknowledges the growing threat of cybercrime in Florida and will be filled with education, awareness, development and outreach to citizens and communities throughout the state.
“Computer-related criminal activity is a new, highly sophisticated and rapidly growing threat to Florida’s citizens and, more specifically, our children,” said Attorney General McCollum while presenting a Cabinet Resolution to officially name the week. “My office will remain vigilant in our efforts to raise awareness and promote cybersafety so that as technology continues to advance, we, as a state, are able to advance with it and be better protected.”
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,
77 million children use the internet daily and one in seven children in America between the ages of ten and 17 is sexually solicited online.
Florida is currently ranked 4th in the nation for volume of child pornography on computers, which includes use of webcams, chat rooms and video – all for the purpose of sexually exploiting children.
In addition to his educational outreach, the Attorney General is currently supporting legislation which, when passed, will position Florida as a national leader in the legal fight against the possession and distribution of child pornography and the sexual solicitation of children.
The CyberCrimes Against Children Act of 2007 is expected to pass in both chambers this week.
The bill, which has been unanimously approved by all referenced Senate and House committees, strengthens penalties for the possession or distribution of child pornography. Additionally, the bill creates a new, separate penalty against sexual predators who communicate with a child online and then travel to meet that child, or coordinate travel for the child, for the specific purpose of sexually abusing him or her. The maximum prison terms will increase three-fold from five years in prison to 15 years under the new law. In addition to the new legislation, there is also a pending budget request to expand the Attorney General’s CyberCrime units throughout the state.
At today’s Cabinet meeting, Attorney General McCollum also recognized a class from Florida State University’s College of Communication for their contributions to the Attorney General’s cybercrime awareness campaign. The Attorney General thanked Dr. Rayburn, professor of the Public Relations Management class for Spring 2007, and his students for their assistance and creative design aspects of the campaign.
While this year’s focus of CyberCrime Awareness Week is protecting children from internet dangers, Attorney General McCollum reminded Floridians that cybercrime encompasses much more than the online sexual solicitation of children. He stated that as his cybercrime initiative continues to expand, it will also address other important areas including fraud, identity theft and computer facilitated crimes against seniors.
More information about the CyberCrime unit and other initiatives is available online at the Attorney General’s website, http://myfloridalegal.com.