California cyberstalking update

Several months ago I blogged about the status of California’s Assembly Bill 919, which is designed to strengthen existing stalking laws in California. Specifically, Guy Houston, assemblyman, R, authored the bill after a California woman’s personal information was posted on Craigslist and several third parties harassed her.  

The bill isn’t law in California – at least not yet. But a spokeswoman from Houston’s office said that it’s expected to become law this year – if, that is, California’s budget ever gets settled. The bill awaits Gov. Schwarzenegger’s signature.

 

Bill’s status: Here

Bill’s language: (Link here, text below)

BILL NUMBER: AB 919	AMENDED
	BILL TEXT

	AMENDED IN SENATE  MAY 6, 2008
	AMENDED IN SENATE  JULY 5, 2007
	AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY  APRIL 30, 2007
	AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY  APRIL 10, 2007

INTRODUCED BY   Assembly Member Houston

                        FEBRUARY 22, 2007

   An act to add Section 653.2 to the Penal Code, relating to crimes.

	LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

   AB 919, as amended, Houston. Electronic communication devices:
threats to safety.
   Under existing law, any person who willfully, maliciously, and
repeatedly follows or harasses another person and makes a credible
threat, intended to place that person in fear for his or her safety
or the safety of his or her immediate family, is guilty of the crime
of stalking.
   This bill would make a person who, with the intent to place
another person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the
safety of the other person's immediate family, by means of an
electronic communication device, and without consent of the other
person, and for the purpose of  imminently  causing that
other person unwanted contact, injury, or harassment by a 3rd party,
distributes specified identifying information  that would be
likely   to incite or produce that unlawful action  ,
guilty of a misdemeanor. By creating a new crime, the bill would
impose a state-mandated local program.
   The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local
agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the
state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that
reimbursement.
   This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this
act for a specified reason.
   Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.
State-mandated local program: yes.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  SECTION 1.  Section 653.2 is added to the Penal Code, to read:
   653.2.  (a) Every person who, with intent to place another person
in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of the other
person's immediate family, by means of an electronic communication
device, and without consent of the other person, and for the purpose
of  imminently  causing that other person unwanted physical
contact, injury, or harassment, by a third party, electronically
distributes, publishes, e-mails, hyperlinks, or makes available for
downloading, personal identifying information, including, but not
limited to, a digital image of another person, or an electronic
message of a harassing nature about another person,  which would
be likely to incite or produce that unlawful action,  is guilty
of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in the county jail, by
a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both
that fine and imprisonment.
   (b) For purposes of this section, the term "electronic
communication device" includes, but is not limited to, telephones,
 cellular   cell  phones, computers,
Internet Web pages or sites, Internet phones, hybrid
cellular/Internet/wireless devices, personal digital assistants
 (PDA)   (PDAs)  , video recorders, fax
machines, or pagers. "Electronic communication" has the same meaning
as the term is defined in Section 2510(12) of Title 18 of the United
States Code. 
   (c) For purposes of this section, the term "harassment" is defined
as  
   (c) For purposes of this section, the following terms apply: 

    (1)     "Harassment" means  a knowing
and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that a
reasonable person would consider as seriously alarming, seriously
annoying, seriously tormenting, or seriously terrorizing the person
and that serves no legitimate purpose. 
   (d) For purposes of this section, the term "of a harassing nature"
is defined as 
    (2)     "Of a harassing nature" means 
information that a reasonable person would consider as seriously
alarming, seriously annoying, seriously tormenting, or seriously
terrorizing the person and that serves no legitimate purpose.
  SEC. 2.  No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to
Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because
the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school
district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or
infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty
for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the
Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the
meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California
Constitution.      

Houston on the bill:

 

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