The High-Technology Crime Unit was formed to cope with the unique law enforcement problems posed by the emerging high technology environment in what is commonly known as Silicon Valley. Criminal activity related to high technology generally occurs in three principal forms:
Theft and sale of electronic items (computers, computer components and the like),
Theft of trade secrets, and
Hacking and other illicit intrusions into computer systems. Since 1995, this third category has expanded to include auction fraud, theft identity, and other crimes perpetrated by means of the Internet.
Since its inception, the High-Technology Crime Unit has vigorously prosecuted criminal activity in all these areas. Appellate cases that have originated from the Unit have provided nearly all of the decisional authority that applies to trade secret theft in California. Members of the Unit have also suggested numerous amendments to the Penal Code in response to the changing patterns of crime in the high technology area, many of which have been enacted into law by the California legislatures.
In recent years, local municipal law enforcement agencies have formed regional task forces (such as REACT, the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team) to better cope with criminality that affects high-technology crime. The High-Technology Crime Unit works hand in hand with these task forces. The approach has proved so successful that in 1997 the California legislature sponsored and funded the creation of similar task forces throughout California.
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