THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE ANNOUNCES NEW REPORT DEMONSTRATING STRONGER FEDERAL AND STATE LAWS NEEDED TO PROTECT AMERICANS AGAINST ON-LINE STALKING Washington, D.C. -- Stronger federal and state laws are needed to
protect Americans of all ages from online stalking according to a new Department of Justice report released today by Vice President Al Gore. Cyberstalking: A New Challenge for Law Enforcement and Industry is aimed at helping to protect millions of Americans using the Internet by providing greater awareness to the problem of online stalking.
"As more and more Americans are going on-line -- particularly our children -- it is critical that they are protected from online stalking. Cybperspace should be a place for learning and exploration not a place for fear," said Vice President Al Gore. "Cyberstalking is a very serious new problem confronting us in the information age. This report demonstrates the need for stronger federal and state laws to combat the problem."
Meeting at San Diego State University with victims of online stalking and their families, Vice President Gore discussed the report and listened to the stories of victims, discussing ways to combat the problem of on-line stalking.
The Department of Justice report analyzes the nature and extent of the cyberstalking problem, current law enforcement and industry responses and the adequacy of existing federal and state laws.
Cyberstalking generally refers to the use of the Internet, e-mail, or other electronic communication devices to stalk another person. Stalking refers to harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person's home or business, or vandalizing a person's property.
According to the Department of Justice, less than one third of the states have anti-stalking laws that explicitly cover stalking via the Internet, email, pagers, or other electronic communications. While the general stalking statutes in some states may cover cyberstalking, the report calls on all states to review their laws to ensure they prohibit and punish stalking via the Internet and other electronic communications. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office estimates that e-mail or other electronic communications were a factor in approximately 20% of the roughly 600 cases handled by its Stalking and Threat Assessment Unit. According to a 1998 national DOJ survey of traditional (offline) stalking, one out of every 12 women (8.2 million) and one out of every 45 men (2 million) have been stalked at some time in their lives.
The report makes the following recommendations regarding cyberstalking: