Florida Passes Cyberharassment Law

Men and women, young and old, will feel safer online thanks to a new law that recently went into effect.

Florida passed SB 538 Sexual Cyberharassment Thursday. The law, proposed by Sen. David Simmons, R-Volusia, prohibits a person from cyber-harassing another person and gives police authority to arrest without warrant.

Bridget Anastasia, FSU alumna and professional engineer, stated the law is good, but the real change comes from the people.

“I believe the law is great, but the true progress will come once society steps up. That means that we each must call out our attackers and raise our voices… law or no law. Sexual harassment leading to any form of sexual vulnerability is a social issue, and we must learn to treat it like one,”  Anastasia said.

The law emphasizes that photos uploaded online without consent can be easily reproduced and cause irrevocable psychological harm to the harassed. Film actress Jennifer Lawrence and pop star Rihanna have dealt with this dilemma in the past.

Anastasia stated sexual advances for man or women are “unwarranted.”

Jason C. Taylor, Attorney At Law at McConnaughhay and Duffy law firm in Tallahassee, Fla. expressed that as a parent, he understands these types of events do occur.

“It has a good intent to try and prevent this sort of thing from happening. You have to be careful who you are trusting this information with. Once the harm is done you’re having to try and remedy this after,”  Taylor said.

Taylor, while in support of the law, stated it had some hard penalties that should help.

“Hopefully it will deter some of the behavior. Hopefully it will make people think twice before they do something like this,” Taylor added.

Simmons shared that the purpose behind the bill came from past experience. “[I] have been involved with several pieces of legislation that have protected woman,” said Simmons.

He shared that many instances it is women who are harassed, specifically in relationships that fall apart.

David Wilson, assistant principal at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Fla. shared that their school has not had many cases with cyber sexual harassment. Instead they have had physical cases, but deal them no different than any other incident. School districts follow certain codes of conduct with relationship with their school resource officer or SRO to determine whether laws are broken.

Students who are afraid can submit an anonymous form,” Wilson said. “If they are afraid to speak, if they’re not cooperating it sort of ties our hands. If we think it is a violation of the law, one of the first things we do is report it to the deputy.”

Florida ranks No.2 behind Texas for the largest amount of sex charges reported by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.