Cyberbullying has become a front and center issue for Oneida County in recent months. Now those online attacks are a punishable offense.
The newly enacted local law makes several forms of computer bullying illegal, including posting doctored images, creating a fake profile or website, and making online statements that are meant to immediately provoke another person.
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente says anyone violating the law will be fined between $500 and $1,000. Violators could also spend up to a year in jail. Picente says the penalties are the maximum the county can issue under local law.
"My concern is are we putting a law on the books that has enough teeth that gives law enforcement the tool they need and can be prosecuted," Picente said. "So, we believe it does."
Picente says the law covers a form of bullying that is vastly different than more traditional types.
"These instances are something that it doesn't go away, and I think that is one of the things that we stress," Picente said. "It's not the typical bullying that took place when I was young, because you have an Internet where it's out there and it's repeated and replayed or resent and continued to be passed on."
The legislation was introduced by Oneida County Legislator harmony Speciale, a Democrat, and was nearly unanimously approved.
Picente signed the cyberbullying law following a public hearing on the legislation Tuesday morning. It will take effect immediately after the state files it.