Bill extends protection from cyber-stalking

Bill extends protection from cyber-stalking


COLUMBUS, Ohio – A bill that provides broader protection for victims of cyber-stalking and other technology-based is on its way to the Ohio Senate after winning overwhelming support in the House.

The bill, approved 89-3, was inspired by the experience of a northeastern Ohio woman who suffered through electronic harassment by a neighbor without any legal recourse.

Courtesy Ohio House of Representatives
State Rep. Marlene Anielski (R-Walton Hills) speaks on the House floor Wednesday in favor of her bill to provide wider protection for victims of cyber-stalking. (Courtesy Carolyn Best/Ohio House of Representatives)

Current law prohibits threatening someone with physical harm or mental distress to the other person via any form of written communication, including electronic communication, as well as written or verbal graphic gestures. The bill approved in the House Wednesday extends that protection to family members.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Marlene Anielski of Walton Hills, on Wednesday told the story of a woman who received threatening emails and faxes from a neighbor and was also pictured on a website hanging in effigy, along with her husband.

The bill prohibits a person from knowingly causing someone to believe that the offender will cause his or her immediate family will be terrorized by physical or mental harm. The bill would also make it illegal to urge or incite menacing by stalking.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Ohio prosecutors and the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio support the bill.

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