WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8), joined by twelve Members of the House of Representatives, introduced H.R. 3878, “The Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014.” This legislation will provide essential information on the presence of criminal activity and hate speech on the Internet. It has the support of 45 diverse advocacy groups.
“The Internet is a wonderful vehicle for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. But it can also be used as a platform to promote hate and target vulnerable individuals,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. “This legislation will mandate a comprehensive analysis of criminal and hateful activity on the Internet that occurs outside of the zone of the First Amendment protection.”
In 1992, Congress directed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to examine the role of telecommunications in encouraging violent behavior and subsequent commission of hate crimes against designated persons and groups. The study investigated speech that fostered a climate of hatred and prejudice in which hate crimes may occur on broadcast radio and television, cable television, public access television and computer bulletin boards.
The report was completed and submitted to Congress in December 1993. Over twenty years have passed since the issuance of this report, and with the advancement of technology and the development of the Internet, there are new and more readily available platforms for individuals to target vulnerable populations.
H.R. 3878 requires the NTIA, with the assistance of the Department of Justice to: (1) create a comprehensive, updated report that examines the use of the Internet and telecommunications by individuals to commit hate crimes based on race, gender, religion and sexual orientation; and (2) make recommendations to address such crimes while respecting the important protections of the First Amendment.
“The role played by hate speech in context of our Constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech is vitally important; as such, and the NAACP deeply appreciates Congressman Jeffries’ legislation and efforts on this issue,” said Hilary Shelton, the Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and the Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy. “In the last 20 years, we have seen the number of hate groups grow, and the percentage of hate crimes against African Americans has grown to over 60% of all reported hate crimes during that time as well. As the use of the Internet and the ever-expanding variety of social media tools used by these groups continues to grow and evolve, we need to have a better idea of what they are doing and how they are doing it. We strongly commend Congressman Jeffries for introducing the Hate Crimes Reporting Act, and for his drive to accurately assess this problem, as a precursor to solving them.”
This legislation is also supported by the National Organization for Women (NOW) who stated, “Use of the public airwaves to promote hateful attitudes and actions towards certain groups and individuals is an issue long overdue in receiving closer examination. We believe that hate speech engenders disrespect and violence against women, people of color and the LGBTQ community. We hope that the study will address continuing hate speech that vilifies women seeking reproductive health care as well as websites that encourage violence against healthcare providers at women’s clinics which we believe have led to the injuries and death of clinic personnel and volunteers. We commend Rep. Jeffries for his leadership in requesting that this study be undertaken.”
“The Hate Crime Reporting Act” was introduced with support from the following original cosponsors: Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC Delegate), Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Bobby Rush (IL-01), Ron Kind (WI-3), Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Mike Honda (CA-17), Ben Ray Luján (NM-3), Pedro Pierluisi (Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico), Judy Chu (CA-27), Tony Cardenas (CA-29), Ann Kuster (NH-02), and Mark Pocan (WI-02).
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Full text of H.R. 3878, “The Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014” can be read HERE.
This legislation has the support of 45 advocacy groups, including:
Anti-Defamation League, Arab American Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), NAACP, National Council of La Raza, Southern Poverty Law Center and GLAAD.