Idaho’s Hartgen to try again on cyber-bullying bill

By Jared S. Hopkins
Times-News writer
Rep. Stephen Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, says he plans to re-introduce legislation at the 2010 Legislature targeted at prohibiting harassment on the Internet, including social networking sites.

Hartgen, a former newspaper publisher, still wants to expand harassment laws so they apply to online communication including e-mails, text messages and posted comments on personal blogs and related Web sites. Hartgen has cited the 2006 case in Missouri in which a 13-year-old girl committed suicide after receiving online taunts from a woman posing as a teenager on MySpace. The incident prompted that state to update its laws.

“There have been quite a few cases this year of cyber-bullying noted around the country of one kind or another,” he said. “You’d like to have a tool in place that could deal with that.”

Last year, Hartgen’s effort fell flat amid concern from attorneys on the House judiciary committee. Those legislators applauded his idea but raised worries about its enforcement. He said he was trying to upgrade the state’s laws to existing technology.

“Everybody is Twittering, Face-booking, YouTubing, Myspacing and e-mailing each other. I read the other day the average teenager has 2,000 separate text messages a month,” Hartgen said. Full story.


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