Push to update Washington cyberstalking law

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The Washington legislature is considering a proposal to toughen anti-cyberstalking laws.

House Bill 2129 would modify existing state law by replacing the word “cyberstalking” with “cyber harassment.”

The proposal would also make it a misdemeanor to send “lewd, lascivious, indecent, or obscene” messages or pictures to someone who doesn’t want them.  Sending repeated or anonymous messages to someone who doesn’t want them would also be considered a crime.  Even if the victim doesn’t respond to the messages, the sender could still be held responsible, if they “reasonably should know” that the victim doesn’t want to receive their messages.

The proposal also changes some of the language in Washington’s cyberstalking law, after a Federal judge blocked the law earlier this month, saying it appears so broad that it may infringe on Constitutionally-protected free speech.

Under the new proposal, cyber harassment could become a felony crime if the sender has been convicted of harassing the victim, their family, or their household in the past.

HB-2129 has been referred to the House Committee on Appropriations, but so far lawmakers have not scheduled a vote.

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