In two previous pieces I wrote about Internet identity theft and harassment. Tens of thousands of people in our country every year are victims of Internet identity theft and harassment. We hear all too often of the young boy or girl who was being harassed on the Internet or bullied at school and then takes his or her own life. Harassment is a very serious crime with, at times, deadly consequences.
Whether you are an ESPN reporter, a young student or a consultant in Washington, D.C., being a victim of harassment is disruptive to your life. And that is exactly what the criminals want.
Having been a victim of Internet identity theft and harassment for over a year, I could go on and on about all of the things that have happened — the imposter Internet sites and postings, the anonymous flyers distributed in my neighborhood, vandalism of my personal property, robot phone calls, anonymous packages sent through the mail — but instead, I’d rather focus on the positive aspects of this experience.
Instead of being intimidated, report the perpetrators to law enforcement authorities and bring the full force of the criminal laws of our country against them. These laws need to be updated but don’t sit silently until this is done. Remain strong and be determined to stay the course and not be bullied.
Soon, very soon, the people who engage in this type of activity will be apprehended and treated like the common and cowardly criminals they are. Justice may be slow but she is amazingly fair.
I call on the 112th Congress to update existing laws to ensure that victims of Internet crimes and harassment are protected and to increase the penalties so that the perpetrators of these crimes get the punishments they deserve.
Jill Sigal is President of Jill Sigal Associates, a consulting firm specializing in policy development, strategic planning, government relations, communications and stakeholder and community outreach. She recently has added Internet Identity theft and harassment to the portfolio of issues for which she gives public policy and strategic advice.