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.

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  1. identicon
    anonymous, 13 Apr 2010 @ 4:12pm

    As a parent or god parents etc. This is shocking . Myspace has and had when it first came out . They had more trolls-child predators then any other social net working site This has gotta end . If it doesn't then as parents etc. do we need to take the law into our own hands? Myspace allows some of these people back on. I have myspace to keep in contact with family and friends sometimes. I had it for about four or five years now. I never had seen many people like that on there till a few months ago. I had reported over ten child predators on the site. Two were females and one was just 18 simply thinking it was alright in her mind to do such sick things. I had reported one two trolls trolling every site on myspace they could. Most of these trolls could turn out too be predators ! This is just disgusting and evil. I caught one guy going around telling teen girls he was 14 . He was 20 something. He had 2 different myspace pages. It is worse then ever. These people are coming on this site to get our kids. Some kids I have seen give there cell numbers out to these people. When is it gonna take a damn parent to watch there child and put a stop to this stuff? You got good and bad parents. Those bad parents out there who don't care you should be punished then and jailed. Lori Drew what she done to that little girl was bad and she was a bad and unstable parent who did not care. She was heartless ! Because let me tell you something ! You think your kid is 100 % innocent? Not now days. No kid is innocent. You can find out by checking up on your kids pages. I seen way many kids who done stuff they were not supposed too do. As parents if you do not watch an underage child while there on the net or check up things it's not gonna be good. Bad things happen now days. Kids trust everyone out in the world and on the net ! They think it's safe and everyone likes them and will be a good friend. Most of these people are trolls-predators. Very few people they are chatting with are the same age as them. These people tend to hold things sometimes we don't know what and they start to make ugly statements against others because they feel like it or just are crazy-bullies who have false hopes built up. So they go on a harassing spree and harass anyone and everyone they can including our kids later on online. I seen a lot of adults do this kind of stuff towards kids on social networking sites. Some people can not quit. It's best we report them over and over till the net working sites get tired of it and the authorities step in and take action. Some of you don't know who you are chatting with. It could be a kid. If you troll-bully our kids were gonna make sure your crazy ass*es are locked up. There is no need to pull immature second grade stuff. No need to be immature. Those who can't grow up and still do it sometimes online then. Then it just goes to show us they have an immature state of mind. I am sick of the crap adults do and pull online . Those who can't now stop really are unstable people. There are many ways of stopping them.

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