U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., brought back their “Combat Online Predators Act” this week.
Murphy and Fitzpatrick were able to get their bill through the House with ease while the Senate passed its version, championed by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., and then U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., but the two chambers could not agree on a final version which kept it from becoming law. Toomey has reintroduced the proposal with U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn., taking Nelson’s place.
The bill increases criminal penalties on stalkers going after minors including those that take part in cyberstalking, adding an additional five years to a sentence if a stalker targets someone under the age of 18. The bill also mandates the U.S. Justice Department study federal, state and local laws targeting stalkers and reviewing the best practices to share with law enforcement agencies across the nation.
“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,” said Murphy on Thursday. “It’s an honor to work with Congressman Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent, and with Senators Toomey and Casey, and we will do everything within our power to get this bill over the finish line in this Congress.”
"We 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,” said Fitzpatrick. “The Combat Online Predators Act ensures 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. I look forward to working with Senators Toomey and Casey and Congresswoman Murphy to get this measure signed into law.”
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