[Ed. Note: This interview was conducted before the terrorist attacks last month.]
Janet Reno was the first woman to hold the office of Attorney General of the United States of America. She was nominated to the post by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and was reappointed in 1997. She earned a degree in chemistry at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and enrolled at Harvard Law School in 1960, one of only 16 women in a class of more than 500 students. In 1971, Reno was named staff director of the Judiciary Committee of the Florida House of Representatives and helped revise Floridas court system. In 1973 she accepted a position as assistant state attorney of the Dade County, Fla., States Attorneys Office, and, in 1978, was appointed state attorney of Dade County, becoming the states first female state attorney. She was elected to that office in November 1978, and ultimately won re-election four more times.
Government Technology caught up with Janet Reno to get her perspective on Internet crime, crackers and what law enforcement needs to do to apprehend those who use computers to break the law.
Government Technology: What do you think it will take in the future for law enforcement to be able to track down Internet criminals?
Reno: It is imperative that we develop experts at the federal, state and local levels that have law enforcement experience, as well as proficiency in cyber technology sufficient to match wits with these hackers. Thats going to require some specialized training of police officers and agents whove exhibited aptitudes in this area, and it will require recruiting new officers and agents who have an aptitude in cyber technology but need to be trained in policing practices.
I dont think were going to be able to have the expertise we need at all levels of government. Its going to require that there be a sharing system across the country where each jurisdiction doesnt have to bring its own special expert at great cost, and probably with unrealistic expectations that they could hire a sufficient number of people. The governments will have to share expertise as well as equipment -- equipment that may not be necessary on a daily basis but could be key in tracking hackers and others who attack Web sites or commit any number of other types of crimes using cyber technology.
To that end, we should start, as the FBI and others started in San Diego, developing joint facilities whereby these matters can be pursued and the forensic steps taken to search computers when they are used as part of a criminal activity. Its going to require a sharing and a real push by government to be prepared in this area.
Finally, government and industry are going to have to work together in a very careful way to recognize that they cant be at odds on this issue. Theyve got to be able to work together with appropriate consideration for security and privacy in order to maintain security and privacy in the long run. The gulf that has sometimes existed between industry and the law enforcement community has got to be put to rest.
Before I left, we had a conference with law enforcement and industry at Stanfords law school and at Hernan in Virginia, and again and again, industry told us that they didnt know where to go; they didnt know which agency would handle crimes like these; they didnt know what to expect; and they were worried that matters concerning the company would be leaked.
These are age-old problems that law enforcement is going to have to address and address quickly.
GT: Do you think that same gulf exists between local governments and federal law enforcement?