Washington, DC—Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) released a statement after the Senate passed on Saturday his Combat Online Predators Act [H.R. 4203], with an amendment:
“We have no higher responsibility than to protect our kids. I’m pleased that the Senate has advanced the Combat Online Predators Act. We must do everything we can to forcefully respond to egregious instances of stalking and cyberstalking. This legislation, inspired by Erin and Madison Zezzo, ensures that, not only are we increasing penalties for cyberstalking crimes against minors, but we are also requiring federal law enforcement officials to evaluate and update practices to combat this dangerous harassment. I urge House leadership to immediately bring the Senate-passed bill up for a vote before the end of the Congress.”
The Combat Online Predators Act provides enhanced criminal penalties for stalkers under Title 18 Section 2261 by up to five years if the victim is a minor. Furthermore, the legislation calls for the Attorney General and Department of Justice to produce an evaluation of Federal, State, and local efforts to enforce laws relating to stalking and identify and describe elements of these enforcement efforts that constitute best practices.
In April, the House overwhelming passed the bipartisan Combat Online Predators Act [H.R. 4203]. The Senate amended the bill to ensure that the enhanced penalties only apply to more serious cases of stalking.