Thursday, August 28, 2008

Governor trumpets internet harassment legislation

An internet harassment bill was one of many that took effect in Missouri today and was another one that was heralded by Gov. Matt Blunt's taxpayer-supported publicity machine:

Legislation Gov. Matt Blunt called for to protect children from Internet stalking and harassment in the wake of Megan Meier’s terrible death goes into effect today.
"The Internet has provided immeasurable benefits to us all. However, like many good things, there are deviants who want to misuse the Internet and social networking sites to harm others," Gov. Blunt said. "It is our job to do whatever we can to deter destructive behavior and the potentially tragic consequences that harm our children. The legislation I signed protecting Missourians from cyber stalking is a big step in the right direction."
The bill clarifies the crime of harassment to include communications by any means, including over the Internet. It also expands the crime of stalking to include any course of conduct with two or more acts over a period of time that is communicated by any means. Additionally, the bill requires school boards to have a written policy requiring school administrators to report crimes of harassment and stalking committed on school property to law enforcement.
The legislation increases penalties for harassment from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony when committed by an adult over 21 years old to a minor 17 years old or younger or by someone who previously has committed the crime of harassment. It also increases the penalties for stalking and aggravated stalking for subsequent offenses, regardless of when the first offense was committed.
Last year Gov. Blunt created the Internet Harassment Task Force to review Missouri laws that relate to stalking, harassment and child endangerment and make recommendations for changes to better protect Missourians from Internet harassment. His task force recommendations formed the basis of the new laws effective today.
Three years ago Missouri was among the first states in the nation to join the AMBER Alert Web Portal to ensure that information can be spread as quickly as possible when a child is abducted. Gov. Blunt also has promoted the INOBTR (I Know Better) Campaign to provide information about online predators and signed legislation this year requiring registered sex offenders to provide e-mail addresses and other online identifiers to authorities. The governor instituted the Missouri Alert Network to enhance school safety and supported funding for cyber crime grants to assist law enforcement in investigating dangerous Internet crimes, especially sex crimes exploiting children.
Gov. Blunt has been a national leader in protecting children from sexual predators. He enacted Missouri’s version of Jessica’s Law, an action that mandates a life sentence with at least 30 years served for predators who commit egregious crimes against young children. Additionally, Gov. Blunt made Missouri one of the first states in the nation to mandate lifetime GPS monitoring for sex offenders who prey on young victims.

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