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New York Task Force Aims to Modernize Internet Criminal Laws

Published on 09/30/2013 -


As technology evolves, criminal laws tend to lag several years behind. The recent rise in Internet crimes and the subsequent failures of the criminal justice system to successfully prosecute these crimes serves a prime example.

In response to the recent rise in online crime, the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., has released a 112-page report on the need to revamp New York’s white collar crime laws, according to a report from The New York Times.

New York District Attorney Asks for Changes to Criminal Laws

Sources say the report advocates amending New York’s criminal laws to keep pace with increasingly sophisticated economic crimes, most of which involve the Internet, in order to help prosecutors pursue white collar criminals.

“The Internet has become our 21st-century crime scene,” said Vance during a speech at New York University. “Serious computer and related crimes are not today treated according to the gravity and breadth of the harm caused.”

According to Vance, criminal laws in New York have evolved very slowly since 1965, leaving prosecutors vulnerable against crimes like identify theft, corporate espionage, computer code theft.

To this end, the task force created by Vance issued a report that focuses on crimes like insider trading, fraud towards the elderly, tax fraud, and counterfeiting.

According to sources, it also seeks to strengthen money laundering laws, and shape them for the modern era. The task force, which was created last fall, was led by the chief assistant district attorney in Manhattan, and featured input from a horde of high-profile criminal defense attorneys, sources say.

New York Looks to Attack Online Criminals

While it offers concrete reform proposals to help prosecutors pursue modern criminals, the report also makes an appeal for efficiency. “These new breeds of white-collar crime have victimized individuals, businesses, and government entities alike,” said the 112-page proposal.

“Despite its multifarious forms, all modern white-collar crime in New York shares one feature: it costs our taxpayers dearly.”

One of the most prominent examples of white collar crime that has victimized taxpayers is cheating amongst high-frequency traders, according to the report.

Sources say some entities engaged in high-frequency trading of stocks and bonds are able to get early looks at key information that could change the market’s view on the stocks and bonds.

But this illegal activity is very hard to catch in the modern era. This practice, which has been described by the New York Attorney General as “far more insidious than traditional insider trading,” is just one of the many types of high-tech crimes that prosecutors are looking to attack.

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