Clark calls for investigation and prosecution of online threats against women

Washington, D.C – Congresswoman Katherine Clark is calling on the Department of Justice to prioritize investigations and prosecutions of cyber abuse crimes targeting women. Although protections against violent online threats already exist, enforcement is drastically lagging. Of the estimated 2.5 million cases of cyber-stalking that occurred in the U.S. between 2010 and 2013, federal prosecutors pursued only 10 cases.

“We have to stop seeing this as just an internet issue,” said Clark. “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. We have to examine how well we’re enforcing existing protections and work to keep the internet open for everyone.”

Clark published a column in The Hill about the dangers of cyber threats and harassment targeting women.  

In a letter to the Appropriations Committee, Clark requested specific considerations for cyber abuse as the Committee develops the House’s funding bill for the Department of Justice.

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 73 percent of adult internet users have witnessed online harassment, and 25 percent have seen someone threatened with physical violence. Another study by the University of Maryland reports that women receive sexually explicit or threatening messages 27 times more often than men. 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.

Full text of Clark’s letter to the Committee can be found here.