In September 1998, the U.S. Department of Justice began a national Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force program to counter the emerging threat of offenders using the Internet or other online technology to sexually exploit children. The purpose of the program is to help state and local law enforcement agencies develop an effective response to cyber enticement and child pornography cases. Under this program, regional ICAC task forces serve as sources of prevention, education and investigative expertise to provide assistance to parents, teachers, law enforcement and other professionals working on child victimization issues.
The ICAC Task Forces are funded by a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Iowa's ICAC Task Force has been administered through the Iowa Department of Public Safety; Division of Criminal Investigation since its inception in the spring of 2004.
Policing in cyberspace presents unique challenges for American law enforcement. Very few cases start and end within the same jurisdiction, and therefore nearly all ICAC investigations require extensive multi-agency collaboration.
The primary responsibilities of Iowa's ICAC Task Force include:
- Conducting investigations, forensic analysis and prosecuting offenders.
- Providing investigative and prosecutorial assistance to police agencies and prosecutors (e.g., forensic analysis of computers seized as evidence).
- Providing training for law enforcement officers and prosecutors.
- Providing training for parents, teachers and other community members to ensure that children, parents, and other individuals and organizations are well-acquainted with the issues in this area.
- Fostering continual statewide and regional coordination, collaboration, information sharing, networking and service integration.