To combat constantly evolving computer crime, Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano is proposing a cybercrime law that would create new offenses, increase some existing penalties, and make it easier to track criminal activity over the internet.
Sen. Marc Spitzer, R-Phoenix, and Rep. John Verkamp, R-Flagstaff, who chair the Legislature’s judiciary committees, have agreed to sponsor the bill.
“We had cases where we had gaps,” Napolitano said during a Dec. 8 news conference in which she outlined her goals for the next legislative session. “This would be a major advancement for criminal justice in the state of Arizona.”
Among the changes, the bill would:
• Make it a crime to send computer viruses, stalk or harass a person online even if there is no face-to-face contact, and participate in “screen jacking,” where a web site does not allow a browser to exit.
• Increase the penalty for identification theft.
• Allow police to issue a “desk subpoena” to trace the source of criminal electronic activity, instead of forcing them to seek a judge’s approval for a search warrant. The more stringent requirements would remain in place if police wanted to check the contents of a suspect’s computer transmissions.
Napolitano said the proposed law would be flexible to allow law enforcement to adjust to constantly changing effort to use computers for criminal activity.