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, 4 Apr 2010 @ 12:26pm

    Lori drew was wrong ! Plain & simple ! Any adult who acts in such the manner as she did is immature or very unstable. Something is not right with there mind. This woman should have been checked as well as her daughter. Yes there are a few trolls on here & everywhere. People just say oh they are idiots and fight back. Don't do a thing. Report Them. You won't be able to stop these trolls by words back and fourth. Or go to there house. For all we know they could be so unstable & They snap & Do something. We need to stand up & fight back and make sure they get the justice deserved jail. juvie, prison..... Probation & Even be locked up in a mental hospitial . They need help And taught a lesson. And learn this stuff is not normal. These people are cowards. That's why some has all there information blocked so some people can't track them online. Issue is some can & The police & fbi can track you even if it's a bit of a slow process.

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