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« on: May 13, 2009, 06:01:57 PM »


May 12, 2009
Bill could mean jail for Internet flamers
Posted: 11:32 AM ET
A cyberbullying bill introduced last month has the potential to put half the Internet behind bars.

The Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act is Congress’ response to the 2006 suicide of a 13-year-old girl who was harassed on MySpace. The bill makes electronic communication a felony if “the intent is to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person.”

Congressmen probably aren’t the most Web-savvy bunch, but anyone familiar with trolling, flaming, and various other forms of online bullying could see a problem with this bill.

Network World examines the bill and explains this new breed of Internet criminal:

Given the freewheeling exchanges that characterize everything from SMS text messages and instant messaging to blogs and Web site comments, the broadly written bill potentially could turn a lot of flamers and bloggers into felons.

Amid growing online criticism, bill sponsor Rep. Linda Sanchez defended the Cyberbullying Prevention Act in a Huffington Post article this month:

Congress has no interest in censoring speech and it will not do so if it passes this bill. Put simply, this legislation would be used as a tool for a judge and jury to determine whether there is significant evidence to prove that a person “cyberbullied” another… So — bloggers, emailers, texters, spiteful exes, and those who have blogged against this bill have no fear — your words are still protected under the same American values.

While Rep. Sanchez’s assurances may be comforting, judges tend to follow the wording of a law rather than its sponsor’s intent. So before you text your cheating ex, slam those Apple forum fanboys, or call me a ‘moron’ in the comments, consider the possible consequences of this new bill, or at least put your lawyer’s number on speed dial.


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« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2009, 07:07:55 PM »

It'll last about 1 month even if it makes it through.  Heck my column each week could be considered cyberbullying and they will quickly realize they don't have the manpower to police the thing.  It's regulation with no sense and was created in response to an extreme situation.  I wouldn't worry about it.  It will blow over. 

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