Ohio legislators this week gave final approval to a bill that makes stalking via the Internet illegal. The measure is expected to be signed by Gov. Bob Taft, mking Ohio one of about 40 states with such a prohibition. The bill would prohibit stalking or harassing someone repeatedly through electronic means, such as by e-mail or a message board. Posting false information on the Internet, causing another person to stalk an individual, would also be illegal.
The legislation would make cyber stalking in most cases a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine. Penalties could be higher if the victim is a minor or was threatened with physical harm or if the stalker has a history of violence.
“Over time there’s been a gradual increase” in cyber stalking, said Michael Smalz of the Action Ohio Coalition for Battered Woman, a proponent of the bill.