Proposal for new Internet laws in MN

Incoming attorney general wants laws to fit 21st century, including making computer theft a felony.

Minnesota Attorney General-elect Lori Swanson wants to update the state's criminal code to deal more effectively with Internet offenses. Swanson released a package of proposals, ranging from a new felony for adults who sexually engage minors online to a requirement that school districts have cyber-bullying policies.

"We're updating 20th century laws, which don't always fit the crimes of today," Swanson said.

She recommended changing the law so prosecutors can go after adults who communicate in a sexually explicit fashion with minors over the Internet. She said current law requires proof that the minor was solicited or the adult charged money for the explicit content.

Swanson is worried that if Rep. Mark Foley had been sending come-ons to teenage pages in Minnesota his actions may not have been illegal.

She also wants to make stealing a computer - no matter the value - a felony. Swanson said information on the computer can be a goldmine for thieves.

Swanson's proposals will get hearing in the state legislature's House Public Safety and Civil Justice Committee.