WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) — A Massachusetts congresswoman is calling on federal prosecutors to prioritize investigations of cyber abuse against women.
Rep. Katherine Clark, a Democrat from Melrose, says enforcement of laws protecting woman from online threats is “drastically lagging.”
“We have to stop seeing this as just an internet issue,” Clark said in a statement. “When women are targeted with violent threats online, they are not only forced to fear for their safety, but their ability to fully participate in our economy is jeopardized.”
There were 2.5 million cases of cyber-stalking in the U.S. from 2010-2013, but the Department of Justice only pursued 10 of those cases, according to Clark. She’s sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee to ask for “specific considerations for cyber abuse” in the Department of Justice’s budget.
“We have to examine how well we’re enforcing existing protections and work to keep the internet open for everyone,” she said.
Clark cited a recent study by Pew Research Center, which found that 73 percent of adult internet users have seen online harassment. A separate study from the University of Maryland concluded that women get sexually explicit or threatening messages 27 times more frequently than men, Clark said.
“While perpetrators may not intend to carry out their threats of violence, the threats themselves have real world consequences, including the costs of missed wages, legal fees, and private protection services,” she said.