House Committee Adds Definition to Harassment Law
By Jenifer Jones
The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill to clarify state statutes on cyber bullying and telephone harassment. It's currently a class one misdemeanor to use a telephone or other electronic communication device to threaten harm or harass or annoy someone with obscene language. House Bill 1069 includes computers and other electronic devices in the law. Proponents say the bill gives states attorneys another tool. Representative Stace Nelson says it could help prevent bullying.
"We've got kids in our schools that are receiving texts, that are receiving all forms of communication that currently aren't covered because we don't have the proper verbiage within our statutes," Nelson says. "I think this would allow some of the discretion with our states attorneys in order to deal with those situations before they become outrageous and we have kids snapping to the point that we have problems within our schools."
But opponents say because the definition includes computers, it could have unintended consequences. They say if the law now applies to a blog post or comments left online, it could amount to censoring online content. The committee voted nine to four to send the bill to the House floor.
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