House of Representatives member Katherine Clark (D-Mass.)

On Monday, House of Representatives member Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) became the first member of the US Congress to call out GamerGate while lambasting online harassment. In an op-ed at titled “Sexism in cyberspace,” Clark called on the US Department of Justice to “intensify their efforts to investigate and prosecute the federal laws that criminalize the worst” cases of abusive speech perpetuated online.
According to Clark, only ten cases of “cyber-stalking” have been pursued by the US DoJ between 2010 and 2013—years after Congress amended the Violence Against Women Act to add online harassment to its federal purview (see Sec. 113 here, PDF)—in spite of an “estimated 2.5 million cases of cyber-stalking.” Clark’s op-ed did not cite where that statistic came from, but some sleuthing brought up a statement about the statistic made by University of Maryland professor and author Danielle Citron.
“After speaking with the FBI, other law enforcement agencies, and women who have experienced these threats firsthand, it’s clear that nothing is going to change until we stop thinking about these crimes as harmless hoaxes and recognize the chilling effect these crimes have on women and the economy,” Clark wrote. (As we reported last year, the FBI has publicly acknowledged efforts to curtail rising trends of online abuse and threats.)
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