LITTLE ROCK, Ark – In a June 16 speech, United States Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced three areas of Justice Department focus for the White House Online Harassment and Abuse Task Force.

Garland’s announcement was one of several presentations made that Thursday, marking the task force’s establishment following a presidential proclamation signed June 15.

The Task Force is in response to increased concern over online harassment and abuse, especially in light of the Buffalo supermarket mass shooting incident in May where 10 were killed in a racially motivated attack.

“The Buffalo shooter, for example, was very explicitly radicalized online.  And his manifesto espoused the ‘great replacement theory,’ which is, of course, rooted in racism, misogyny, and xenophobia,” a senior administration official said in a June 15 call.

The Uvalde shooting and online radicalization was also cited by the same official.

The three focus areas are:

  1. Expanding capacity to prevent online criminal harassment and abuse.
    • The Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Woman will create a National Resource Center on Cybercrimes Against Individuals to “… prevent, enforce, and prosecute cybercrimes against individuals,” Garland said.
    • “Cybercrimes” include “… the use of technology to harass, threaten, stalk, and extort, as well as the nonconsensual distribution of intimate images,” he said.
  2. Expand capacity to prosecute online criminal harassment and abuse.
    • The Office of Violence Against Woman grant program will fund training for local law enforcement to counter cyberstalking and provide survivor support. A Uniform Crime Reports category will be created to track cybercrimes and will result in an annual report on this type of crime.
    • As a component of this area, the Justice Department will begin a strategy to reduce cybercrimes, coordinate investigations, increase prosecutions and evaluate effectiveness.
  3. Expand capacity to protect and support cybercrime victims
    • Victim services organizations will receive $3 million in funding to assist victims. Initiatives will be supported for using technology to increase access to victim services and information and increase responsiveness.