NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Pretending to be someone else online could soon land you in prison.
On Monday, local lawmakers rolled out a plan to halt high-tech impersonators.
If the proposal passes cyber-bullies will find themselves far from their keyboards and under lock and key instead.
Megan Jarensky looks like she has it all. As a former Miss New York she’s a true beauty queen and recently married the man of her dreams.
But as CBS2’s Emily Smith reported, in 2014, while newly dating, her future husband nearly ended things after asking her why she was on match.com looking for ‘Mr. Big.’
“Even though it was full of complete lies, I was embarrassed and ashamed, and I also felt very alone,” she said.
The profile came from someone named 1078YOGI. It had Jarensky’s photos on it along with her birthday and favorite hobby — yoga. It also gave a list of ‘made up’ prerequisites — “you take me to fancy places,” “you give me expensive gifts,” “you give me a credit card and let me go on shopping sprees.”
The emotional trauma ultimately inspired Jarensky to start a campaign called ‘In Plain Site’ an anti cyberbullying group.
The group seeks to safeguard all victims and provide legal options, some of which are still in the works.
“Today we stand here in support of the e-impersonation prevention act, which broadens the definition and elevates the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony,” she explained.
That means a conviction could result in up to 7 years behind bars.
The bill is sponsored by New York State Senator Kevin Parker.
“Right now the internet is the wild wild west,” he said.
Parker said as technology increases the laws need to change, and make the internet a safer place for everyone including children, teens, and business owners.
It wouldn’t stop people from simply making cruel comments.
“If you put up a profile that was another Kevin Parker, and said negative things that aren’t true I could take that evidence, provide it to police, and there would be a way to prosecute in a more significant way,” Parker explained.
The state law would crack down on internet providers making it easier for investigators to subpoena information leading them to account owners.
Adrian Danon hopes the potential prison time will deter cyber bullies.
“Well I was a victim of cyber bullying back in high school, it certainly applies to me,” he said.
The bill has cleared a key senate committee and the full senate will soon vote. The assembly still has to approve the bill which could become a law by next year.
The only other state with a similar law in effect is California.