A newly proposed bill claims it would take aim at Internet crimes like swatting and doxing with $24 million a year devoted to prevention.
The Verge reports that new legislation has been proposed by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) that would outlaw internet harassment techniques such as swatting and doxing. Swatting is the act of calling in fake threats to the police including the address of an intended target which regularly results in trained SWAT teams breaking down the door of the victim. Doxing is when a harasser posts the private information of their target such as their full name, address, phone number, email, etc. which can lead to further harassment from Internet users.
The bill, titled The Online Safety Modernization Act of 2017, is a collection of several previously proposed bills by Clark along with sponsorship from Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Patrick Meehan (R-PA). If passed, the bill would impose penalties on these relatively new forms of harassment, which often fall into a legal gray area, and would fund further research and investigation into various Internet safety issues. The bill is focused on individual Internet users rather than companies or corporations. It is comprised of six sections and specifically, focuses on “cybercrimes against individuals.”
Three sections include details on punishments for “sextortion” or “revenge porn,” the act of publishing nude photos of an individual without their permission — often in an attempt to blackmail the individual. Other sections of the bill focus on giving the FBI and police greater access to resources to fight these online threats. The bill proposes $20 million in grants to provide training for state and local law enforcement, teaching them how to respond to these issues. The bill also proposes a $4 million grant to establish the National Resource Center on Cybercrimes Against Individuals.
Clark stated that she hopes the bill can “create better communication through both state local and federal law enforcement, to really be able to give a place where victims can turn [and] know their cases will be taken seriously.” She also claims that Facebook has endorsed the bill saying, “Since this came on our radar with Gamergate back in 2014, we have met with many of the major social media platforms.”
Clark also proposed cybercrime legislation in 2016. Her tendency to side with leftist causes online, such as shutting down a Twitter-related game, has led to Breitbart Tech’s Allum Bokhari labeling her as “cultural authoritarianism personified.”