The [Justice Department's] cyber crimes section is involved with all manners of crime committed over the Internet. The majority of our time is devoted to online sexual exploitation of children, Internet predators. The Innocent Images National Initiative was begun in the Baltimore field office ...
back in 1993, based on the abduction of an 11-year-old boy in Prince George's County, Md.
[Give me a sense of the scale of resources that the FBI is investing.] At any one time, the FBI has 30 undercover operations internationally addressing this crime problem.
We have, at one time, over 200 FBI agents working this crime problem full-time nationwide. [When you talk about "matching wits," what do you mean, in terms of the predators' techniques? Based on my experience, the sexual predator online will try to become the confidante or friend, confessor of the victim.
The teenagers generally know or find out fairly quickly that they are talking to an adult who is interested in sex, but they continue the conversation.
The non-victims, again, are very savvy to the safety issues of the Internet. they view it as a violation of their rights for the parents to be standing over their shoulder or to monitor their use or to have their passwords.That's really not what's going on in most of these crimes. First of all, these crimes primarily involve adolescents; very few [involve] young children.These crimes do not involve stalking or abduction or violence.Because that's what I look for: I look for the child that's online at midnight; I look for that child that's more open, that's more vulnerable. They're much smarter than we are when it comes to the computer. I find that the strongest weapon against online exploitation is communication, sharing your interest.Back in 2000, we conducted a national survey of youth (PDF file). We found that about one in five of the kids had experienced unwanted sexual solicitation when they were online ... In 2005, we redid that study (PDF file); it had been reduced to only one in seven of the kids. [What are the myths that you've been able to correct with your research?
Here in Los Angeles, there's a very aggressive multi-agency task force. Many just think that they're smarter than anyone else and they know how to handle it. They'll go into Web sites, they'll go places on the Internet where they know maybe vulnerable children are located; for instance, chatrooms dealing with loss, chatrooms dealing with skateboarding, pets, mourning.