Proposed law tightens up kiddie porn, cyber bullying penalties

A legislative committee has approved and reported out a bill that updates crimes over the Internet as they relate to minors.

For example, the proposed law criminalizes the use of a minor’s stolen identity online and specifies a penalty of from one to three years in prison. Also criminalized is intercepting the communications, images or personal data of a minor without permission. However, there does not seem to be a penalty for creating a minor’s identity online which many pedophiles do.

A summary to the bill notes that many of the changes are updates to existing laws that seek to address new developments.

Among these is a prohibition against distributing dangerous games online. The summary describes such a game as one that encourages young Internet users to put a noose around their necks to experience a high from strangulation. The penalty for doing so runs as high as four years in prison if the Internet user dies as a result of the game.

There are a number of prohibitions against various forms of pornography which specifically address the use of minors for producing such material or even simulating the presence of a minor.

The legal changes also address cyber bullying and harassment as well as texting sexual messages.

Although the new provisions may seem like overkill when compared to existing law, two sections prohibit publicity about sexual tourism when minors are used. An existing law already prohibits promoting the country as a sex tourism destination, although the measure does not seem to be enforced.

The current proposal also would seem to be difficult to enforce because of the universal nature of the Internet. Alexa, the Amazon.com Web tracking company, lists four international porn sites in the top 100 sites viewed in Costa Rica. One is ranked in 50th position, well above NetFlix and even the Radiográfica Costarricense Web sites.

Under the law, these porn companies would be guilty of a crime if they allowed minors to sign on.

Fundación Paniamor is among those outside entities supporting the measure.

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