Congressional Rep Wants To Put Internet Trolls In Jail

from the well,-that's-an-idea dept

Last year, the lawsuit against Lori Drew got plenty of attention. It involved the sad story of a girl, Megan Meier, who ended up killing herself after a "friend" she met on MySpace ended their friendship in a rather rude fashion. It later turned out that the "friend" wasn't a real person, but a made up individual, created by a former friend of the girl, that girl's mother (Lori) and an employee of Lori created the person (they claim) as a way of finding out what Meghan was saying about Lori's daughter. The whole story is quite sad, obviously, and suggests incredibly poor judgment on Lori's part. However, was it illegal? The initial analysis was not at all. However, prosecutors then twisted computer hacking laws to charge her, and she was eventually found guilty of misdemeanor computer hacking for creating a fake person on MySpace. This ruling was troubling for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it's now quite easy to make anyone a criminal via terms of service. Also, the fact that it actually is likely to put more kids at risk.

That particular case was distorted by a few issues, involving the fact that Lori was an adult while Meghan was a child. If the MySpace friend "Josh" had been a real teen, would the same outrage have happened? I had a friend in high school kill himself after his girlfriend dumped him. Should she have been charged with a crime?

However, with emotional cases, come bad legal precedents and bad laws. Missouri (where this happened) already rushed through an "online harassment" law, and now it looks like we may get the federal equivalent. Rep. Linda Sanchez has introduced a cyberbullying law (named after Meier) that could put people in jail for up to two years for online communications "with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person... to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior."

Yes, this effectively makes online trolling a crime. It's difficult to see how this gets past even the most basic First Amendment review, but that won't stop politicians from grandstanding over it.

Filed Under: cyberbullying, felony, lori drew, megan meier, trolls

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  1. identicon
    unknown, 9 Apr 2010 @ 12:16am

    I don't even let trolls get to me or hurt me. You just can't. If you do over and over again well they'll stomp on ya. You also gotta understand when they keep on bothering people via online non-stop. That would be called stalking and /or harassment which can be a federal crime if used on computers !!!!!!!!! Just as if someone bothered you in real life and you said stop and they don't. Well it's stalking. Do they even know they could be stalking a child? They don't care and can not get anything through in the mind nothing gets through or clicks right. Yes they do stop for a short time. Then start on again and rambling like sten. does on here of how everyone is a troll and they are innocent not one buys that crap for a second. and pointing out people some days . Truth is that's a troll people. Those who accuse people & got the nerve to start fights online. That's what I call a troll. Simple fact. You go and start stuff, number of accounts, even accuseing people of trolling on here when they are not. You are really one . Seem to think everyone is trolling. Not you. So go cry me a river babe. You need to go somewhere else & troll. Not here. Wrong site. They don't need the drama and fights. Even if you are a kid I don't care. Would you like to go to jail ? Because if you keep on that's where you'll be headed. People will get sick of the stuff. The site should have report buttons or even just start reporting you guys . If a troll made this then looks like they'll be heading to jail also. I really doubt a troll made this site. So don't accuse people who's trying to stop trolls of trolling. It's wrong. That's what you are doing. Unknown Troll
    by Stenoslouch

    Get a life besides trolling the net !

    Anyway please check out this video ! Internet Bridge Troll collegehumor on youtube. It is kinda funny. Sorta also tells some of the truth behind trolls also.

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