In a bipartisan effort to ensure a safer online security for people, Democrat Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy from Florida and Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania have reintroduced their “Combat Online Predators Act.”
Although the bill was passed through the House and the Senate passed their own version of the bill as well, both chambers were not able to agree on a final version that ultimately prevented it from becoming legislation. As a result, both Murphy and Fitzpatrick are reigniting the effort in the new 116th Congress to ensure that the proposal becomes legislation.
Speaking on the proposal, Murphy commented that “Adults who stalk or harass children online or in our communities commit a serious crime. Our bill will ensure federal judges can give convicted defendants the prison sentence they deserve.” Murphy, who’s taken on a prominent role in the Democrat party concerning leadership, added that she and Fitzpatrick “will do everything within our power to get this bill over the finish line in this congress.”
Specifically, the bill increases criminal penalties on anyone stalking minors, which includes cyberstalking. It adds five years to a sentence if the stalker is targeting someone under the age of 18. In addition, the U.S. Justice Department will be mandated to study federal, state and local laws that target stalkers while reviewing the best measures to share with law enforcement agencies around the nation.
Fitzpatrick echoed in Murphy’s remarks, saying that lawmakers “have no higher responsibility than to protect our kids. We must do everything we can to forcefully respond to egregious instances of stalking and cyberstalking, especially when committed against minors – the most vulnerable among us.”
The lawmakers are hoping to see that it’s signed into law this time around, and Fitzpatrick voiced that “not only are we increasing penalties for these crimes, but we are also requiring federal law enforcement officials to constantly evaluate and update practices to combat this online harassment.”