Governor Andrew Cuomo announced legislation in the FY 2019 Executive Budget that grants the State Police Superintendent the power to issue administrative subpoenas as a way of strengthening investigations into sexual offenses against children that have taken place online.
The Governor says this action will play a critical role in streamlining the current subpoena process for these types of criminal investigations, which continue to grow in number.
“We must do everything in our power to stop the victimization of children and the horrific scourge of online sexual abuse, and this proposal will equip the State Police with more tools to identify and arrest those who use technology to prey on children,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this action, we will help protect children, bring these monsters to justice and make New York a stronger, safer state for all.”
State Police often receive leads about online sexual crimes involving children that include only the IP address or online identifier used by the suspect. If it is determined that a crime was committed, a subpoena is then necessary to obtain basic subscriber account records from internet service providers in order to identify and locate the suspect.
Speed is critical in these investigations because internet service providers do not retain this data for long and online predators often routinely change IP addresses to avoid detection.
The current investigative process requires the issuance of a subpoena by an outside agency. This has proven to be cumbersome and inefficient, which hinders investigators from responding rapidly and effectively.
In the past, this delay in obtaining the needed subpoena has almost certainly resulted in perpetrators escaping detection.
Federal law allows government agencies to issue administrative subpoenas in order to support these investigations, however this power must be specifically authorized under state law. The Governor’s proposal does just that and will allow the State Police to utilize the same investigative tools that other local and state law enforcement agencies around the country currently use to combat the growing scourge of online offenses targeting our youngest and most vulnerable victims.
Additionally, as part of this initiative, the actual content of online communications will not be available by subpoena under this proposal, and disclosure of content records will continue to require court authorization.
State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “The nature of computer crime investigations requires an immediate and efficient response by law enforcement, which is not currently supported under state law. This proposal will significantly improve our effectiveness in investigating these crimes, identifying suspects, and bringing the predators to justice.”
The State Police is a key member of the New York State Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which is part of a national program that combats and investigates criminal offenses against children, including sexual exploitation and enticement, through the internet.