Two new laws in New York are meant to add new protections in the digital world, addressing issues like cyberbullying as well as the distribution of sexual images in an attempt to coerce a person.
The provisions, signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Kathy Hochul, are the latest efforts by state officials to address online activities as social media evolves.
"There's nothing more important than keeping our communities safe, and as technology advances, it is crucial that New York has strong laws to protect New Yorkers from online harassment," Hochul said. "I am proud to sign these bills into law so that New Yorkers can rest assured that they can spend time online in a safer, healthier environment."
One measure creates a task force to address the effects of cyberbullying and develop recommendations to prevent it, as well as find ways in which the state can provide help to both children and adults who are victims of it.
"Cyberbullying knows no geographic, ethnic, racial, religious, social or political boundaries, and the destructive impact it has had on young people alarmingly increased during the pandemic as everyone spent more time online," said Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, a sponsor of the measure.
Hochul also approved a bill that will expand the definition of coercion to include the creation and distribution of sexual images. The law is meant to crack down on "sextortion" in which those images are created to coerce a person into producing them under the threat.
"Sextortion is a deeply disturbing crime where an individual, through coercive action, manipulates another into creating intimate images that are often used to further this criminal activity. Due to the lack of clarity in the penal law, these types of crimes are often not prosecuted; leaving little deterrent for the perpetrators of these heinous crimes," said Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski. "This legislation closes that loophole by explicitly stating that the coercion law includes the production or dissemination of intimate images."