Auburn – Continuing his long history of protecting crime victims, New York State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio (R-Fayette), Chairman of the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee, today announced that he and Assemblyman Brian Kolb and Assemblyman Gary Finch have introduced legislation (S.6699/A.9944) that would create the crime of harassment by electronic mail or computer network. The legislation would make harassment by electronic mail or computer network a Class E felony.
“The faceless crime of harassment over the internet is a growing problem and an inexcusable action that must be addressed,” said Senator Nozzolio. “Technology now allows individuals to harass or intimidate a victim in front of mass audiences from their own private computers. This can have a damaging impact on a victim’s sense of safety, security and self-esteem. The abusive dialogue over computer networks must be stopped. I am pleased Assemblyman Kolb and Assemblyman Finch will join me in sponsoring this legislation to help protect individuals from the intimidating and bullying acts of their peers over the internet.”
“The invasive, cowardly act of harassment of individuals over the internet must be corrected immediately,” said Assemblyman Kolb. “It is essential that with the 21st Century use of technology we ensure laws are established so innocent individuals are not preyed upon.”
“Lewd, lascivious and indecent behavior over the internet is becoming a very dangerous problem,” said Assemblyman Finch. “I am pleased to join Senator Nozzolio and Assemblyman Kolb to address the concerns of school officials and parents to help alleviate the issue of harassment over the internet.”
According to WHO@, an organization designed to stop online harassment, New York State ranks second in the country for the most online harassment cases. Nearly 65% of all online harassment cases reported to them were initiated by chatting, instant messaging or e-mail. The chat rooms can also be a fertile ground for sexual predators to prey on innocent victims.
One of the most popular on-line social networking services where harassment of individuals often takes place is MySpace.com. The website which was created in 2003 has grown to more than 57 million users, including 25 million in the last four months. The popular site allows people to post and share personal information with each other and can sometimes include provocative photographs as well as indecent and derogatory comments to harass individuals.
Joining Senator Nozzolio and Assemblyman Kolb at the press conference at Auburn high School to announce the introduction of the legislation was Alexandra Emanuel, who was a victim of electronic harassment.
“As a victim of being tormented via the internet, I would like to thank Senator Nozzolio, Assemblyman Kolb and Assemblyman Finch for their efforts in introducing this legislation,” said Alexandra Emanuel. “Numerous times I looked for an adult to step in and help with the harassment that I was dealing with. Unfortunately, I received no response from internet service providers. Senator Nozzolio, Assemblyman Kolb and Assemblyman Finch have finally given me peace of mind that someone is in fact listening.”
“I praise Alexandra’s courage in coming forward to discuss her experiences as a victim of the intolerable acts of harassment over the internet that she had to endure,” Nozzolio said.
“It is necessary that we raise awareness of the harassment that is currently taking place via the internet and the long lasting negative effects that it can have on student’s performance and overall behavior,” said John Plume, Superintendent of Auburn City School District. “I applaud Senator Nozzolio, Assemblyman Kolb and Assemblyman Finch for their efforts to prevent innocent students from being harassed over the internet.”
“Bullying is a pervasive problem throughout our nation’s schools,” said Judy Freeman, member of the Auburn School District Board of Education. “Cyber-bullying is the newest avenue for student to student harassment. I would like to thank Senator Nozzolio, Assemblyman Kolb and Assemblyman Finch for sponsoring this legislation that will help school districts address this problem.”
“This legislation will give law enforcement and service providers the authority they need to stop this crime and I urge my colleagues in the State Legislature to support this important measure,” concluded Nozzolio.