By Nancy Gohring
June 27, 2007
IDG News Service
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and President George W. Bush are
committed to fighting intellectual property theft and cybercrime,
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told a small audience in Seattle
He cited a number of initiatives the DOJ has launched in the past year
and detailed a few high-profile arrests of cybercriminals as examples of
the government's focus. Just last month in Seattle, for example,
authorities indicted Robert Soloway, known as the "spam king" for his
role in sending millions of unsolicited commercial messages and selling
useless mass e-mailing products and services.
"In bringing cases like this, we recognize that spam is not just an
annoyance," Gonzales said.
The DOJ has 240 federal prosecutors around the country trained to
address complex computer crimes, he said. This week, many of them are
meeting in Florida with computer industry experts to beef up their
training in how to respond to cyberincidents, he said.
The DOJ has a similar number of prosecutors who are specially trained to
handle intellectual property theft investigations. Gonzales pointed to
another local arrest in 2006 that was possible because of the work the
DOJ is doing to prosecute such criminals.
Scott Laney, a Washington man, was sentenced to five years in prison and
fined more than $9 million for his role in acquiring Microsoft Corp.
software at reduced rates and illegally reselling it at near market
value. "The stiff sentence in this case shows modern-day pirates that we
take these crimes seriously," Gonzales said.
Gonzales said his biggest concern is that piracy is an easy way for
criminals to raise money that could be used for other illicit
activities, including terrorism. "It's more than just a question of
protecting IP; it's a question of security," he said.
The DOJ is also reaching out to other countries in hopes of encouraging
them to crack down on intellectual property crime. Last year, the DOJ
provided training to over 3,000 foreign prosecutors, investigators and
judges in more than 100 countries, Gonzales said. "IP theft is
undeniably an international concern," he said.
Gonzales spoke at an event organized by TechNet Northwest, an
association of technology companies that focuses on public policy to
help promote the high-tech economy. The event was also promoted by the
Discovery Institute, a group that promotes creationism. Around 50 people
Gonzales didn't touch on a more sensitive local issue: the firing of
Western Washington U.S. Attorney John McKay late last year. A small
group of Seattle residents didn't forget though, gathering outside of
the hotel where Gonzales spoke to protest the firing and other issues.
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