CNMI Senate Passes Anti-Cyber Bullying Bill

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Also establishes the crime of electronic impersonation

By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, March 24, 2015) – The Senate on Friday passed legislation that would establish the crime of electronic impersonation and impose penalties on people found guilty of hacking a social networking profile or creating a fake profile or social media account for the purpose of harming, intimidating or attacking other people.

All nine members voted yes to approve Senate Bill 19-27 which was authored by Senate President Victor Hocog.

The bill, which now goes to the House, stated that impersonation by electronic means or e-personation that is intended to harm or defraud the person impersonated is a growing trend around the world including the commonwealth.

"It occurs when thieves, scam artists or people who want revenge use the internet to pretend to be someone else either by creating a fake Facebook or other web profile or by communicating via email with third parties while pretending to be someone else.

"In some cases, the objective is to cyber-bully a person or to defraud perhaps in order to gain confidential information. In other instances, a person might create a fake online profile of the targeted person in order to damage his or her reputation."

Hocog said the internet should not be used as a forum to harm, intimidate, threaten or defraud other people.

He said he wants people to be more responsible when using social media.

"We don’t mind criticism but show your face and don’t hide under a fictitious identity just to attack a person or individual because you are jealous or angry with that person. We don’t have a governing statute to criminalize identity theft and that’s the reason I came up with this bill."

He added, "The impact of this bill on our community should be that we will now be able to see the real critics. How can we come together and work for a solution if I don’t know who you are? Be transparent and be responsible so that you can help the person you are criticizing and the person can help you also by coming up with a better solution. In that way, the critic and the person being criticized can work together toward a better outcome. Social media should be used as a tool for constructive criticism and not to attack or damage an individual’s reputation just because you are jealous or angry with that person."

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