For a city nestled in the heart of California’s technology industry, the high-tech resources and expertise of San Francisco police and prosecutors have long been limited.
On Tuesday, prosecutors got a badly needed boost to their ability to investigate high-tech crimes.
The Board of Supervisors approved a $200,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant for the District Attorney’s Office to pay for a senior investigator, forensic equipment and training for the office’s high-tech crimes unit. The unit prosecutes ID and intellectual property theft, computer hacking and other high-tech crimes.
“Despite the fact that we are situated so close to the birthplace of high-technology innovation, San Francisco — from a law enforcement investigative standpoint — does need ample resources to supplement and enhance current programs for investigations on high-technology crimes,” was how prosecutor Conrad Del Rosario put it to a Board of Supervisors committee last week.
“Unfortunately our cyberunit now consists of one prosecutor, and that’s me,” he added.
Del Rosario notably prosecuted a city network engineer, Terry Childs, who was convicted of withholding passwords to The City’s main computer network in 2008. City officials were locked out of the network for 12 days and feared a shutdown of many city services. Childs received a four-year prison sentence.
The grant will also allow the District Attorney’s Office to expand its relationships with state and federal prosecutors — as well as with the private sector, including tech companies such as Adobe, Apple, Cisco, Electronic Arts and Microsoft, according to its grant application.
The application cited a worldwide rise in counterfeited and pirated goods, and the particular susceptibility of California businesses to intellectual property theft because of the state’s “unique market position.”
Separately Tuesday, Attorney General Kamala Harris, the former San Francisco district attorney, announced a new statewide prosecutorial unit to combat ID theft and cybercrime.