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Assemblyman Gerard Scharfenberger. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Scharfenberger launches bill increasing penalties for Zoom bombing

By Nikita Biryukov, August 11 2020 1:44 pm

Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger (R-Middletown) is backing a bill to increase penalties for Zoom bombers.

“Parents, teachers, and students should not have to worry about logging into virtual classes only to be exposed to inappropriate materials instead of their usual lessons — it is not only outrageous, but highly offensive,” Scharfenberger said. “We must safeguard against it. The increase in penalties will go beyond just a nuisance and act as a real deterrent for those who illegally enter virtual meetings or online classes with malicious intent.”

The bill would make bombing video teleconference calls with obscene material a third-degree crime if the call includes minors. That would carry a penalty of up to five years imprisonment. Otherwise, it is a crime in the fourth degree carrying a maximum penalty of up to 18 months imprisonment.

Current statute does not explicitly name unauthorized access to a video or teleconference as a crime

“We have seen an unparalleled increase in the use of virtual meetings and technologies in the wake of COVID-19 which is likely to only increase heading into the fall,” said Scharfenberger. “This bill is designed to proactively defend against and increase penalties for hacking or virtual bombing of conferences in all forms.”

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