Bill Would Create Cyber-Harassment Crime
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. December 5, 2013
New Jersey lawmakers are considering a measure that would create a new crime called cyber-harassment.
Senator Donald Norcross says current harassment laws have not kept up with advances in technology.
A Senate Committee has advanced his bill that makes it a crime to use any electronic device or social networking site to threaten someone or send lewd materials with the intent of causing emotional harm.
“We certainly understand people’s first amendment right, and we want to respect it. We want to make this as clear as we can. This will give prosecutors the ability to go after those who are harming our children or other adults.”
Offenders could face fines up to ten-thousand-dollars and 18 months in prison. The penalties would increase for those over the age of 21 who were cyber-harassing a minor.
Norcross says offenders younger than 16 could be ordered to attend a training program to learn about the harm their online behavior can cause.
“Most schools are already addressing this. For those of us who grew up on rotary phones, we understood threatening somebody physically and hearing it on the phone, but somehow that’s removed when you’re typing it on the keyboard.”