Legislation Will Allow State Police Superintendent to Issue Administrative Subpoenas To Track Down Online Predators
Subpoena Power Will Ensure Swift Response By State Police To Leads About Online Sexual Crimes Involving Children
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced legislation in the FY 2021 Executive Budget that grants the State Police Superintendent the right to issue administrative subpoenas as a way empower the State Police to investigate internet crimes against children. This new power will enable the State Police to move quickly to identify and locate persons suspected of online sexual exploitation of minors by streamlining the subpoena process necessary to obtain their online records.
"We must do everything possible to protect our children and to put a stop to the shocking pervasiveness of online sexual abuse," Governor Cuomo said. "With greater ability to track and arrest online predators before they are able to retreat back into the web, we will be better prepared to bring these predators to justice and better protect New York's children."
The 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 Keith M. Corlett said, "This proposal provides an important tool for investigating internet crimes against children, helping us identify suspects quickly before they act to avoid detection. This supports our ultimate goal of holding online predators accountable before they do more damage."
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.