Outlawing Cyber Harassment Runs Into Snag In Idaho

BOISE, Idaho — House Judiciary Committee members are questioning if a statute now governing telephone harassment is so poorly written already that expanding it to criminalize repeated annoying Internet messages wouldn’t make it worse.

Rep. Steve Hartgen, a Twin Falls Republican, is pushing the measure, saying Idaho should follow Missouri in revamping its laws after a teen’s Internet-related 2006 suicide in that state.

Hartgen has won backing from law enforcement officers and prosecutors, who want to nip harassing Internet and e-mail communication before it escalates into something worse.

But Rep. Lynn Luker, a Boise Republican, said Tuesday during a hearing he’s unconvinced original provisions dating back as far as the 1960s to target annoying, terrifying and threatening phone calls were appropriate.

The committee tabled the bill until next Thursday.