Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Latest Cyberbullying Tragedy May Trigger Congressional Action To Address Social Media Law Issues

Cyberbullying has once again gained national headlines due to the recent tragic case of Tyler Clementi. To summarize this case, Clementi was a freshman at Rutgers University who committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Clementi was apparently extremely distraught because allegedly his roommate and another student utilized a webcam to stream onto the Internet Clementi being intimate with another person.

The students who allegedly set up the webcam that captured Clementi without his conset have been charged with Invasion of Privacy. Unfortunately, there is usually a lag between the rapid pace of new technology and the law that governs the use of new technology. In the case of civil and criminal digital crimes this lag is substantial.

This past July, I wrote about cyberbullying because a new Georgia law aimed at curtailing cyberbullying may have some unintended 1st Amendment related consequences. While I believe that Georgia's cyberbullying law has the right intent I do not believe it will withstand constitutional scrutiny for the reasons I stated in that post.

Unfortunately, it has taken another cyberbullying victim to get the attention of Congress. Over the past several years, there have been several high profile cases of cyberbullying. Earlier this year, Phoebe Prince was the poster child for cyberbullying. Now Tyler Clementi. I would hate to see another person's life cut short because they felt their life was over because of content that was uploaded about them online.

Currently, 45 states have some type of anti-bullying law. Even with all of these laws on the books this problem still persists. I believe education at home and in the schools is the best first line of defense in combatting cyberbullying. However, it appears that this may not be enough to deter this destructive activity.

Therefore, I would be happy to assist Congress in drafting a national anti-cyberbullying statute that would balance the need for 1st Amendment protection along with the way information is spread in the Social Media Age along with the need to protect cyberbullying victims. If Senator Lautenberg's office is interested in my assistance his office may contact me directly at www.shearlaw.com.

Copyright 2010 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.