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Excerpts from Quinlan's High-Tech Crime Newsletter

By Quinlan Publishing Group

Fighting High-Tech Crime with Technology

Thanks to Dr. Fred Bagley, a surgeon at Rutland Regional Medical Center in Vermont, an anti-counterfeiting tool promises to thwart drug users who forge prescriptions for powerful pain killers like OxyContin.

Bagley added security features to the blank pads of paper that doctors use to write prescriptions for narcotics. This allows pharmacists to tell quickly whether the writing on the paper is legitimate or phony. Already, Purdue Pharma LP, the manufacturer of OxyContin, has distributed the special prescription pads designed to prevent forgeries to 16,000 doctors in 34 states, including Vermont.

The anti-counterfeiting prescription pads, which look like blank checks, have two colors of ink on them, a microscopic line of print, safety paper that prevents erasures, and special feature that displays the word “void” on copies if they are reproduced.

All pharmacies and 120 doctors in Rutland and the surrounding hills and villages have embraced the new technology, and local and state police were involved in planning its implementation.

  • Federal statistics show that prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in the United States. OxyContin use by students in grade 12 in 2003 was 4.5 percent, Vicodin use was at 10.5 percent for the same students. Columbia University reported that 495 websites advertising controlled prescription drugs did so without requiring a prescription for access.
  • Beyond the anti-counterfeit measures: Pharmacists in Rutland are also talking about fostering a communication network among themselves so they can track how much of a narcotic pain reliever a single patient has purchased.

Furthermore, the abuse of prescription narcotics is fueled not only by counterfeit prescriptions, but also by doctor-shopping, and unscrupulous doctors who over-prescribe and under-evaluate.

If Rutland’s initiatives are successful, doctors, pharmacists, and police in other areas of the country could be convinced to adopt similar programs.

Source: The Boston Globe


Funding the Fight on Crime: Grants for Law Enforcement Personnel
The Cyber Trust Grant

Eligibility: U.S. institutions, and nonprofit research institutions with a strong educational component.

Deadline: Feb. 7, 2005.

Funds: Up to $30 million.

Contact: Carl Landwehr
Program Director
Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering
Division of Computer and Network Systems
1145 N; (703) 292-8950

In an effort to combat cyber attacks, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is offering grants for single and multiple-investigator projects that contribute to a program called Cyber Trust. Cyber Trust’s goal is to get networked computers to be more predictable, more accountable, and less vulnerable to attack and abuse. NSF will fund a number of projects as long as they:

  • Advance the relevant knowledge base;
  • integrate research and education that will benefit technical specialists; and
  • incorporate the study of technology with economic and institutional factors that help determine its use.

Cyber attacks have been known to corrupt data, reveal private information, and disrupt operations. NSF hopes to defuse those instances with the Cyber Trust program. Projects for the program will be supported in three categories:

  • Single investigator or small group projects;
  • team projects; and
  • center-scale projects.

The deadline is Feb. 7, 2005. For more information, please visit:

The Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center (CTAC)

For this program, the CTAC receives funding from the U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground Special Programs Office, which then re-routes funds to needy agencies to purchase new equipment. The amount of funding and new equipment purchased is based on requests from local law enforcement agencies; if approved, agencies receive equipment at no cost. Multiple types of equipment and technologies are available, including night vision kits; audio surveillance equipment; drugwipe and other drug-testing technologies; interception equipment, including voiceboxes and navigators; wireless video kits and video detective devices; among many others.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Visit http://www.epgctac.com for more details, or call (877) 374-2822.


Regulating the Internet -- The lesson to be learned from a failed Pennsylvania law

In September 2004, a federal judge held that Pennsylvania’s law entitled the “Internet Child Pornography Act” was ineffective in blocking child pornography. Instead, the judge stated, the law was useful mainly in its ability to block access to more than one million constitutionally protected websites with actually no sexual content.

The court concluded the law censored too much protected speech and violated the First Amendment. Many lawmakers at the state and federal levels are still trying to fashion the means to effectively block child pornography from existing on the Web.

The lesson they can learn from the Pennsylvania case is that regulating the Internet means understanding exactly how the Worldwide Web operates. Policymakers are going to get nowhere when their laws and strategies end up grabbing a great deal of socially acceptable literary and artistic content in their attempt to rid cyberspace of one type of sexual imagery.


Understanding the USA PATRIOT Act

Six weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Congress passed the “USA/Patriot Act” to expand the surveillance capabilities of the U.S. government with regard to its own citizens.

The Patriot Act increases the government’s surveillance powers in four areas:

  • Records searches. It expands the government’s ability to look at records on an individual’s activity being held by a third party. In this way, the law allows the FBI to instruct doctors, librarians, bookstore owners, university personnel, and Internet service providers, among others, to turn over records pertaining to their clients or customers. (Section 215)
  • Secret searches. It expands the government’s ability to search private property without notice to the owner. (Section 213)
  • Intelligence searches. It expands a 1978 federal statute that was created to enable the government to collect foreign intelligence information. Now, the law can be used to conduct domestic-based searches for intelligence, via such means as physical searches and wiretapping. (Section 218)
  • “Trap and trace” searches. This rule enables the government to collect “addressing” information about the origin and destination of communications, although not the content of those messages. Wiretaps limited to the collection of transactional or addressing information are known as “pen register/trap and trace” (PR/TT) searches. On an email note, the subject header of a message is considered transactional information accessible with a PR/TT warrant. (Section 214)

And yes, “USA PATRIOT” is indeed an acronym, so it is properly spelled in all capital letters. It stands for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism." Check out the Department of Justice’s website (http://www.usdoj.gov) for more details about the law.

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