By David Madden
TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — A New Jersey senate committee cleared a measure this week that tightens laws against harassment over the Internet.
Camden County State Senator Donald Norcross wants to create the crime of cyber harassment.
“If a threat was being made person to person, it was covered. If a person made it over the phone, it was covered,” Norcross said. “But the cyber loophole was still there.”
Parents have often tried to take legal action to protect their kids online, only to find there is no law to hang their complaint on.
Norcross said his measure would be quite specific about what constitutes as cyber harassment.
“When the threats occur, they’re not accidentally being made,” he said. “They go to a certain condition that goes knowingly, with the intent to emotionally or physically harm. So no one will accidentally do this.”
Offenders could face up to 18 months in jail and/or a fine up to $10,000.
While the bill is aimed primarily at protecting children, Norcross believes it could be equally effective for adults. But he has asked for a legal clarification on that from the Attorney General.
Full senate action is pending and a similar bill in the Assembly has yet to move.