Tuesday, August 14, 2001

Proposal seeks crackdown on Internet harassment

By James McNair
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When the e-mail or Internet chatroom talk goes from amicable to hostile, Ohioans on the receiving end might soon have a law to make cyberspace safe again.

        A bill introduced by state Sen. Steve Austria, R-Beavercreek, would make so-called cyberstalking a misdemeanor punishable by six months in prison and a $1,000 fine on first offense. In many instances, it could be a felony.

        The law would apply to computer-sent messages intended to make the victim fear physical harm or feel “terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested.” A victim's “mental distress” would be enough to trigger the law.

        “Computers are becoming part of our everyday lives so quickly that law en forcement officers and prosecutors need the tools to keep these people off the Internet,” Mr. Austria said of cyberstalkers.

        The full extent of cyberstalking can only be speculated, but a New York organization that tracks reported cases, CyberAngels, says it receives information on 500 cases a day from around the world.

        About 75 percent of those reports, said CyberAngels executive director Parry Aftab, have romance themes.

        “It's horrible and frightening to be harassed online, and there's a high likelihood of cyberstalking turing into real-life stalking,” Mr. Aftab said. “If there isn't a law, nobody will give you help.”

        Mr. Aftab said 32 states have enacted laws against cyberstalking, while three others are considering such a measure.


Lynch walks the walk in Over-the-Rhine
Condemned killer asks for clemency
Byrd appeals death sentence
World's largest garage sale this week
Landlord's money woes affect OTR
'Shaken baby' trial delayed
Hoxworth declares blood emergency
Light rail here a similar story
Police assign another cop to schools
Police nearby as gunshots erupt
- Proposal seeks crackdown on Internet harassment
PULFER: E-mail victimizes shark rescuer
Vote delayed on gay slurs in school
Why all this rain? Nature's foibles
Conference to explore services for Hispanics
Firefighters graduate after starting over
Florist retires after 55 years
Investors seek softball franchise
City manager likely to stay on job
Local Digest
Meeting to address economic progress
N.Ky. group supports stem-cell policy
Plea deal reached in murder plot
Bunning banked $400,000
Computer lab avails residents
Florence warms to baseball team
Military reunions welcomed in N.Ky.
New chief has local roots
Newport's water sale hits a snag
Northern Ky. Daybook
5 on short list for EKU president
Computer tracks rare species easier
Kentucky Digest
'Massacre Mountain' road returned to history, nature