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Bill Criminalizing Disclosure Of Minors’ Information Advances In Legislature

Acdixon, Wikimedia Commons (CC0 1.0)


 A legislative committee has passed a bill that would make it a crime to share personal information about minors if the intent is to intimidate, harass or frighten them. The measure comes in reaction to last year’s controversial video of Covington Catholic High School students encountering a Native American protester.

The family of one of the students in that video, Nick Sandmann, has said they endured threats and insults after it went viral last year.

Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Republican from Latonia and sponsor of the bill, said the bill tries to prevent people from going online and harassing minors.

“What our civil society does not allow is for them to incite mob justice online,” he said.

Under the bill, individuals could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if they share personal information online publicizing a minor’s name, address, school, employment location or other information.

And they could be charged with a Class D felony if sharing the information results in someone losing more than $500 in damages. It would be a Class C felony if they are injured.

Critics of the measure say it is overly broad and would criminalize constitutionally sanctioned speech.

But not everyone is in favor of the measure, citing concern for victims of abuse. 

Rebecca Ballard DiLoreto, a UK Law School professor and defense attorney, says the measure would ban other forms of critical speech, like a victims speaking out about an abuser.

“The idea that you can’t put out something that someone has done to you with their first and last name or where they live or their school or employment location, it goes too far,” she explained.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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