Sunday, June 8, 2014

Cyberbullying Law is being Challenged in Court

New York's high court on Thursday will consider one of the first legal challenges to state and local laws that make it a crime for people to bully others online, especially children. 
The 2010 Albany County law, one of more than a dozen around the country that criminalize cyberbullying, pits free-speech advocates against a community that has given prosecutors a larger role in affairs that typically had been handled by schools.
The court's ruling could set the tone for other state high courts hearing challenges to such laws, as well as for states and localities considering criminal penalties for cyberbullying, legal experts said. Besides Albany, four other New York counties and more than a dozen states, including Louisiana and North Carolina, have similar laws.
A wave of states passed cyberbullying laws after the 2006 death of 13-year-old Megan Meier in Dardenne Prairie, Mo. She committed suicide after a neighbor pretending to be a teenage boy on Myspace sent her cruel messages.
The Albany law makes it a crime to communicate "private, personal, false, or sexual information," intended to "harass, annoy, threaten, abuse, taunt, intimidate, torment, humiliate, or otherwise inflict significant emotional harm on another person."
Cohoes High-school student Marquan W. Mackey-Meggs was the first to be charged under the law, after the then-15-year-old created a Facebook page in 2010 called "Cohoes Flame page" and posted photos of other teenagers with captions that included graphic and sexual comments, according to court documents.
In one of the less offensive posts, he wrote that one 15-year-old girl "Kisses Like A Dog," and has "Cottage Cheese Legs." In others, he listed alleged sexual partners and specific sex acts under the photos, according to court documents.
He was arrested in 2011, after police learned his identity through his IP address, and charged him as an adult with eight counts of violating the Albany cyberbullying law, as well as eight counts of harassment. Mr. Mackey-Meggs told police that he intended the pages to be funny, according to court documents.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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