By Lynn R. Mitchell
At a time when bullying has been tackled on other fronts, it’s good to see Virginia Delegate Scott Taylor on the front line battling cyberbullying, an even more insidious form of bullying that has evolved with growing internet use. After his bill failed to pass in 2014, he is resubmitting HB 344 to be considered during the 2015 General Assembly session that begins in January.
According to Taylor’s office, the bill would cover online impersonation where one person claimed to be another person online. The delegate’s office added:
Taking a page from Virginia’s obscene phone laws, it considers a proposal to make it illegal to credibly assume another person’s identity with the intent to intimidate, harass, or threaten that other person. This penalty would take effect only after the person has passed the already illegal threshold of harassing another. This would not limit the ability to speak anonymously or the content of what was said, but the speaker could not claim to be the person while saying it and would be subject to, not only the penalty for harassment, but a stiffer penalty for violating this law as well.
Delegate Taylor commented:
“Like many of you, when I was growing up, cyberbullying did not exist. However, today it is very much a problem. Perhaps you have children who have experienced it. Unfortunately, it is not limited to children alone and can be a bizarre issue involving some senseless adults as well. Last session, I decided to do something about it. My actions were committed to uphold the First Amendment and free speech, while protecting Virginians and creating an enforcement mechanism for this crime. It is critical that our laws keep up with technology to protect Virginians from cyber crimes.”
Full text of HB 344 can be found here.
Delegate Taylor was elected in 2013 to represent the 85th House District. An entrepreneur, Iraq War veteran, and former Navy SEAL, he is a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel as a commenter on foreign policy, national security, and military and veterans issues. He is a former member of the Virginia War Memorial Board of Trustees, appointed by former Governor Bob McDonnell.