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Louis J. Freeh

Things To Remember While Reading Excerpts From "speech By Louis J. Freeh, Director Of The Fbi":

Excerpt from "Speech by Louis J. Freeh, Director of the FBI, 1997 International Computer Crime Conference, New York, New York, March 4, 1997"

Reprinted from Cyber Terrorism and Information Warfare: 1. Assessment and Challenges, edited by Yonah Alexander and Michael S. Swetnam

Published in 1999

By the 1990s computer systems had become a critical operating component for governments and private business. The Internet, a computer network for information and electronic mail, allowed for almost instantaneous worldwide communication. Any disruption of a computer system in either governments or businesses brought a virtual halt to operations until the problems could be corrected.

The following excerpt is from "Speech by Louis J. Freeh, Director of the FBI, 1997 International Computer Crime Conference, New York, New York, March 4, 1997." Realizing that rapid advances in computer technology had not only benefited the world's population but also was an aid to those wishing to engage in criminal activity, Freeh praised leaders of private industry and law enforcement agencies for gathering together to discuss cyber crime issues. The conference involved individuals from the United States and from around the world.

"But we know with great certainty that of the problem [of cyber crime] is not dealt with very quickly, the time will come that . . . national security will clearly be at risk."

Freeh's words give an interesting insight into thinking at the end of the twentieth century concerning the potential threats of cyber crime. The threats he predicted could affect a nation's national security by disrupting computer network systems. Increasingly, national infrastructures were being operated and controlled with complex computer technology. Examples include communication systems, 911 emergency lines, business transactions, power generation, and transportation systems such as air traffic control. Criminal computer specialists already had the ability to intrude into computer systems of both private corporations and governments with serious consequences.

Computer hacker "Mudge" testifying in 1998 that computer security is so careless that he and fellow hackers could disable the entire Internet in thirty minutes. (AP/Wide World Photos)

Freeh notes that the science of law enforcement, how crimes are investigated and criminals pursued, was changing dramatically because of advancing computer technology. No longer were crimes always committed at a particular geographic location by a person with a specific street address. No longer could a single law enforcement agency with local jurisdiction investigate and make arrests.

Internet crimes, Freeh pointed out, were committed in cyberspace. Local, state, national, or international jurisdictions did not exist for cyber crime. Instead local, state, and national law enforcement agencies would have to work together and with law enforcement agencies of different countries to both solve and prevent cyber crime. Since they knew their own systems thoroughly, computer specialists of international industries and businesses would also be required to aid law enforcement investigations.

Freeh called for those at the conference to begin thinking about pulling law enforcement and private business from all over the world into cooperative working groups to combat cyber crime. He called the cooperation a critical step toward designing systems and procedures to protect against and react to disruptions in computer networks.

Freeh describes measures the FBI had taken by 1997 to investigate the threat of cyber crime. The FBI Computer Investigations and Threat Assessment Center provided expertise in computer investigations and threat assessments. Three FBI computer squads had been organized to serve as a resource for other FBI divisions and other law enforcement agencies. Internationally, thirty countries had "Legats," FBI offices located abroad to provide "cop-to-cop bridges" in partnering with international law enforcement agencies.

For More Information


Alexander, Yonah, and Michael S. Swetnam, eds. Cyber Terrorism and Information Warfare: 1. Assessment and Challenges. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications, Inc., 1999.

Sherman, Mark. Introduction to Cyber Crime. Washington, DC: Federal Judicial Center, 2000.

Web Sites

"Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) of the Criminal Division." U.S. Department of Justice. http://www.cybercrime.gov (accessed on August 19, 2004).

"The Electronic Frontier: The Challenge of Unlawful Conduct Involving the Use of the Internet." U.S. Department of Justice. http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/cybercrime/unlawful.htm (accessed on August 19, 2004).

Internet Crime Complaint Center. http://www.ic3.gov (accessed on August 19, 2004).

"Investigative Programs, Cyber Investigations." Federal Bureau of Investigation. http://www.fbi.gov/cyberinvest/cyberhome.htm (accessed on August 19, 2004).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law