While many internet harassment tactics, such as doxxing and swatting, are considered illegal under state criminal laws, the coverage is often indirect. More often than not, law enforcement has difficulty identifying and prosecuting these types of crimes. But now, Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA), Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Patrick Meehan (R-PA) want to criminalize these behaviors at the federal level with the Online Safety Modernization Act of 2017.
"The legislation is a roadmap for Congress to address online safety and combat the rise in online crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls," says the press release for the bill. It specifically prohibits sextortion, swatting, doxxing and revenge porn, as well as provides training and resources for federal, state and local law enforcement to deal with these complex issues. The bill is supported by Facebook; it's not clear what other tech or social media companies are on board.
This isn't the first time Clark has proposed legislation concerning internet harassment crimes (she fell victim to swatting when she proposed an anti-swatting bill), but this new bill brings various different issues she's addressed under one umbrella. The bipartisan nature of the legislation makes it more likely that it will come to a full vote.
"The fact of the matter is, the laws governing sextortion, doxxing, and swatting were written when computers didn't fit in our pockets, phones were plugged into walls, and texting required a stamp," said Congresswoman Brooks. This bill would go a long way towards helping identify and prosecute crimes that our current laws just aren't currently equipped to deal with.