Penalties and new obligations for cyber stalkers are the subject of two bills in the New Jersey Assembly which have been given renewed interest recently. At present, a stalking victim is entitled to a restraining order limiting contact to the victim from the stalker. Under Assembly Bill A-2143, the contact that the convicted stalker prohibited from making would include e-mails via the internet. This is to afford the victim an additional layer of protection against his or her abuser. In a related, bill, A-3348, an individual who is convicted of stalking would be required to provide the appropriate law enforcement agency with his or her e-mail address or username, along with any appropriate password. In the even that the individual fails to do so, they would be guilty of a fourth degree crime which is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months and a fine of up to $10,000.
These two bills demonstrate the acknowledgement that electronic communications are no longer on the fringe of interaction and have become methods which are used (and abused) by individuals daily. To the extent that a individual stalks another, electronic communications are often a weapon of choice. These bills would attempt to close a loophole that currently exists in the law as it is currently written.