Internet crimes like swatting and doxing are to be aimed with a $24 million preventive investment – according to a newly proposed bill.
New legislation has been proposed to deal with internet harassment by outlawing it – swatting, doxing, revenge porn and sextortion are to be dealt with in the court rooms. For those who don’t know, swatting is the act of calling in fake threats to the police including the address of an intended target which hopefully results in trained SWAT teams being called to break in the victim’s home. It’s mostly used to target live-streamers especially gamers as the act of breaking in and the victim’s reaction is then recorded (since it’s a live stream) and shared online.
Doxing, on the other hand, is nothing short of identity and privacy crime and happens 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 Online Safety Modernization Act of 2017, which is the full name of this bill, would impose penalties on these relatively new forms of harassment, which often fall into a legal gray area because internet related crimes are not yet sufficiently legally defined. It would also serve to fund further research and investigation into various Internet safety issues. Its primary focus is on individual users rather than companies or corporations, and is comprised of six sections.
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.
Representatives Katherine 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.”