Hood touts cybercrime center efforts

TUPELO – State Attorney General Jim Hood warned Friday against online predators and cellphone abuse by youngsters.
Hood was the guest speaker at the weekly meeting of the Tupelo Kiwanis Club, where he briefly talked about his accomplishments since being elected the state’s chief legal officer in November 2003.
He spent most of his time at the lectern plugging the agency’s cybercrime center, which has used new technology to detect Internet child pornography downloaders, who often are child molesters, he said.
The center also cracks down on a host of other Internet offenders such as online scam artists.
“They’re stealing so much more money now with a computer than they can with a gun,” Hood said.
The Democrat did not, however, publicly discuss his political plans for 2011, when there is wide speculation that he’ll run for governor. Hood told the Daily Journal after the meeting that he’s flattered to be considered but hadn’t yet made up his mind.
“I’m enjoying my job and have several projects I’d like to finish before considering it,” he said. “But I am thinking about it.”
Hood sounded like a potential gubernatorial candidate, though, when he said the state must pump more money into pre-K education, calling academics the key to the state’s success. He also said today’s children must be better prepared than those of yesterday and that Mississippi needs to continue educating them at younger ages.
“I see them as being our next ‘Greatest Generation,’” he said.
But that generation faces risks like no other in the form of online crimes. Hood said children who download “free music” using tools like Limewire are not only committing a crime – because the music isn’t actually free – but they’re exposing themselves to risk.
Limewire doesn’t just give users access to other people’s computers to download files, it opens the users’ own computers to outsiders. Hood said people have had their tax files extracted from their computers and posted online for all to see.
He also cited a national study done in January revealing that one in five young people have taken nude pictures of themselves and sent them through their cell phones.
It is illegal for anyone to distribute photographs of people under the age of 18, Hood said.
“We don’t want to send all our kids to prison,” he said, encouraging parents to monitor their children’s phone and Internet use.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal