Online Harassment A New Legal Concern

Wood County Prosecutor Jason Wharton said computer crime related to harassment or abuse of individuals via social media is a developing and relatively new area of law.

“As technology changes and the way people use that technology changes, legislatures must address whether amendments are necessary to address the technological changes,” he said.

Presently, as it relates to harassment or abuse of an individual, many of the remedies available to a victim are civil in nature.

“There are, however, some limited contexts in which actions taken or statements made in social media may constitute a criminal offense under the laws of the State of West Virginia,” Wharton said.

The West Virginia Computer Crime and Abuse Act makes it unlawful for a person to use a computer, mobile phone, personal digital assistant or other electronic communication device to threaten to commit a crime against any person or property.

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