Nebraska may Update Electronic Harassment Bill

Anne Winter
OMAHA, Neb. — State Sen. Mike Friend introduced a bill at Attorney General Jon Bruning’s request that would update the state’s current harassment and intimidation law to include use of electronic devices and email.

Of the offenses listed, sending “depictions of sexually explicit conduct” would be a misdemeanor punishable by one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. A person over 18 who knowingly sends such content to a minor 16 years old or younger would be charged with a felony eligible for a five-year sentence and a $10,000 fine.

A Bruning representative told XBIZ the bill has been "misunderstood" to outlaw sending pornography and other sexual content via email, and that it is merely updating Nebraska’s current law to include new technology. The representative said the new law would come into play only when harassment or intimidation has occurred and was intended.

The bill, however, specifies “the use of indecent, lewd, or obscene language or the making of a threat or lewd suggestion shall be prima facie evidence of intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy, or offend.”

Neither Friend nor Bruning returned clarification requests by press time and it is not clear whether the bill defines “intent” as merely pressing the “send” button.

To view a PDF of Bill 142, click here.