Press Release

For Immediate Release
April 20, 2002

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691


FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III today announced the selection of sites for three regional computer forensic laboratories (RCFLs) in Kansas City, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area, launching a long-term national effort to expand law enforcement’s capabilities nationwide. These laboratories give the FBI and participating federal, state, and local agencies a powerful tool in the fight against terrorism, white-collar crime, violent crime, and national infrastructure protection. The three RCFLs are scheduled to begin operations within the next year.

The RCFL is a partnership between the FBI and other law enforcement of the federal, state, and local governments operating within a geographic area. The purpose of the RCFL is to provide forensic examinations of digital media, such as computers, in support of an investigation and/or prosecution of federal, state, or local crimes.

Director Mueller said, “The RCFL Program is a critical component in our efforts to support state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide. By combining the extraordinary talents and resources of law enforcement agencies at all levels, our ability to investigate criminals and detect and prevent acts of terrorism becomes considerably more robust.”

The widespread use of computers has led to an increasing number of cases in which computer media is seized as evidence. Between 1998 and 2001, the number of computer forensic examinations rose nearly 650 percent. RCFLs will assist law enforcement in meeting this growing caseload.

Currently, the FBI is participating in two pilot RCFL projects: one in San Diego, which opened in November, 2000 and one in North Texas which opened in early 2001. Positive results have been achieved at both sites. For example, the North Texas site played a key role in processing the majority of the computers used by known terrorists involved in the September 11th attacks. In another case, the North Texas RCFL assisted the Dallas Police Department with a computer intrusion case. In that case, a computer forensic examination helped identify an individual responsible for hacking into the computers of Dallas area companies and then attempting to sell his services as a highly paid computer intrusion expert. This individual eventually pled guilty to all charges.

Computer forensic examiners use a variety of methods to discover data that resides in a computer system, or to recover deleted, encrypted or damaged file information. The sharing of information and computer forensic techniques has been, and will increasingly continue to be an important tool for law enforcement.

The RCFLs will be FBI-affiliated and initially funded through federal allocations. Once the laboratories are operational, participating law enforcement agencies will fund the RCFL.


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