Clark cybercrime training proposal gives police tools to help victims of online abuse


Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Katherine Clark has introduced the Cybercrime Enforcement Training Assistance Act, legislation that gives local law enforcement the tools necessary to prevent and prosecute criminal online threats and harassment. Targets of online abuse are frequently subjected to threats of rape, murder, and harm to their families; many have their personal information publicly released. Studies indicate that women, people of color, and members of the LGBT community are disproportionately affected by online threats of violence, with women receiving threats and harassment at a rate 27 times greater than men. Victims regularly report that, although well intentioned, law enforcement does not have training or resources to investigate and respond to to online crimes.  

“Victims of online threats and harassment have had to flee their homes, forfeit work events, and hire personal security,” said Clark. “Millions rely on the internet to conduct their professional and personal lives, and it is not acceptable that victims have to sacrifice their livelihoods or their freedom of speech to remain safe. The Cybercrime Enforcement Training Assistance Act will provide the training and resources needed for law enforcement to help these victims regain their lives and prosecute the individuals who perpetrate these crimes.”  

The Cybercrime Enforcement Training Assistance Act would establish a $20 million a year grant program to provide state and local law enforcement with the training, resources, and technology needed to specifically address this type of criminal activity. In addition, it would establish a National Resource Center on Cybercrimes Against Individuals to help provide training and technical assistance necessary to improve the capacity of communities to prevent, enforce, prosecute, and adjudicate these crimes.

Clark has championed combatting severe online threats and abuse. She successfully earned the U.S. House’s backing to instruct the Department of Justice to investigate severe online threats, and to use existing laws to prosecute these crimes. Clark introduced the Prioritizing Online Threats Enforcement Act to ensure that federal law enforcement has the resources they need to enforce laws regarding the use of the internet to perpetuate severe threats. Clark is also the author of the Interstate Swatting Hoax Act of 2015, legislation to criminalize hoax calls made to law enforcement to elicit an armed police response.

The Cybercrime Enforcement Training Assistance Act is supported by several national advocacy organizations including the Cyber Civil Right Initiative, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Women’s Media Center, Hollaback!, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, TrollBusters, Digital Sisters, the Stop Online Violence Against Women Project, Civilination, the National Organization for Women, the Northern New Jersey Chapter of the National Organization for Women, and the WMC Speech Project.

Full text of H.R. 4740 can be found here.