Hawaii State Capitol - Photo: Emily Metcalf
Photo: Emily Metcalf

REPORT FROM HOUSE MINORITY – The State Legislature has passed three groundbreaking bills to curb the growing cyber crime trend in Hawaii. The bills were the result of the cyber crime informational briefing co-chaired by Representatives Kymberly Marcos Pine and George Fontaine.

Under these bills, law enforcement and prosecutors will have increased ability to charge cyber criminals with new or increased penalties.

“The cyber crime package gives new hope to victims that their perpetrators will be prosecuted,” said Rep. Pine. “My hope is that Hawaii will soon be one the toughest states in the nation to be a cyber criminal.”

HB 1777 authorizes district and circuit court judges in Hawaii to order the production of records held by entities located outside of the state in all criminal cases. The intent is to help prosecutors to obtain electronic evidence that is often stored by mainland organizations. The Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office advocated for the bill, testifying that it was the most important action Hawaii could take to aid in the prosecution of cybercriminals.

“Supporting law enforcement is key,” said Rep. Fontaine. “Members of our caucus worked extensively with the Prosecutor’s Office to introduce an identical bill this session. I’m proud of my colleagues for equipping law enforcement with this critical tool to protect residents from computer crimes.”

HB 1788, a cybercrime omnibus bill, toughens computer crime laws by modeling language after existing identity theft laws defining computer fraud as an aggravated form of theft. It also imposes harsher penalties by raising each existing crime one grade higher. Most notably, the bill creates a new offense of Computer Fraud in the Third Degree, a class C felony. The crime would involve knowingly accessing a computer, computer system, or computer network, with intent to commit theft in the third or fourth degree.

HB 2295 expands the existing offense of Use of a Computer in the Commission of a Separate Crime to include situations where a perpetrator knowingly uses a computer to perform certain acts against a victim or intended victim of Harassment under HRS 711-1106 or Harassment by Stalking under HRS 711‑1106.5. The bill clarifies that the offense is also committed when the perpetrator knowingly uses a computer to pursue, surveil, contact, harass, annoy, or alarm a victim or intended victim.

 

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