(AP) – An Arkansas state lawmaker has proposed legislation that would make it illegal to stalk someone online.
A proposed law would add stalking to the list of crimes against privacy and the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
Arkansas State Police Sgt. David Johnson says stalking is defined by the U.S. Supreme Court as a pattern or practice of harassing or threatening an individual based on an individual’s race, gender, national origin, religion, disability, ancestry, marital status, ancestry or sexual orientation.
“If you’re a member of the general public, you’re probably being stalkers,” Johnson said.
“And if you see someone who is being stalkered, you should file a report.
But the best thing you can do is report it.”
The proposed law also would create a special unit to investigate stalkers, and it would give law enforcement the power to seize and hold someone for up to five years if they’re convicted of stalking or threatening someone.
The proposal also would add criminal penalties for the act of stalking and would allow for civil damages for victims of stalking.
It would also require online stalking offenders to have a court-appointed attorney.
Johnson said the legislation is important because it would help protect the rights of the public against cyberbullying, which is currently the number one killer in the U-S-18 age group, and because it will help make stalking a crime in Arkansas.
He said a cyberbullied person is a victim of cyberstalking.