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Changes to Existing Cybercrime Laws in Minnesota

On 27 December 2006, Attorney General-elect Lori Swanson expressed the opinion that new laws should be enacted to shield the Minnesotan population from Internet predators and other trouble-makers. This followed support to such measures on the part of majority leaders in the new state House.

Swanson, a Democrat, made public a range of proposals, which include a new definition of crime for adults who approach minors online with a sexual motive and an obligation upon schools to bring in cyber-bullying policies. She says that current laws are quite inadequate when it comes to the protection of children. Bringing the laws of the last century up to date is not the best way to fight crimes in today's world. The new laws that she is contemplating are designed to inflict harsher penalties and actions against those who indulge at ease in crimes from their computer.

One of Swanson's novel measures would make it a criminal act to send out sexually open messages either online or otherwise. At present this is not recognized as a misdemeanor in Minnesota. She suggests that the law be changed so that adults who address minors sexually on the Internet can be prosecuted. The current law asks for evidence that the adult solicited the minor or that he made monetary gain.

The envisaged changes were brought about partly by the scandal surrounding the past Florida U.S. Rep. Mark Foley. He is charged with dispatching prurient matter to youthful male pages. Such actions are not necessarily against the law in Minnesota.

The cyber-bullying action would be a supplement to a 2005 law that made it obligatory for school districts to implement wide bullying policies. Another scheme would make it a criminal act to pilfer a computer, irrespective of its value. Current law recognizes theft only for items valued above $500. Swanson's view is that information stored on any computer can be a treasure trove for criminals.

These novel ideas are just some of many projects by Swanson but Representative Joe Mullery of Minneapolis says that these suggestions will be discussed in the House Public Safety and Civil Justice Committee, of which he is Chairman.

Related article: CommSec Agreed to Pay $55,000 for Sending Spam

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