Monday, June 8, 2009
Electronic Harassment bill signed into law
A bill expanding the definition of "harassment" and "harassment by stalking" to include contact through electronic communications was signed into law by the governor as Act 090 on June 5, 2009. Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu (District 41-Waipahu, Village Park, Waikele), House Judiciary chairman, introduced the legislation to increase the protection and safety of Hawaii residents.
The law updates Hawaii's harassment and stalking laws as text messaging and social media websites such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter grow exponentially in popularity. While technology continues to change and new forms of electronic communications develop, so has the increase in harassment and harassment by stalking through electronic communications.
“Passage of these bills will update the current statute with all of the existing forms of today’s technology,” explains Karamatsu. “It is important that lawmakers keep current in order to best serve our constituents.” Karamatsu was inspired to introduce this bill after two friends became victims of electronic harassment and did not have any form of legal recourse.
Law enforcement agencies estimate that electronic communications are a factor in 20 to 40 percent of all stalking cases. Forty-six states now have laws that explicitly include electronic forms of communication within stalking or harassment laws.