Cyber-Bullying and Federal Communications Law

Cyber-Bullying

Social networking sites provide a virtual space where individuals can communicate with friends and meet new people. While intended for these purposes, these sites also can be harmful by making individuals vulnerable to cyber-bullying. In a virtual world, individuals can easily hide their true identities. An adult woman can pose as an adolescent boy in order to bully an adolescent girl. This was the case in the Megan Meier incident. In October 2006, Megan was a victim of cyber-bullying that occurred through a social networking site. The offender, Lori Drew, was the mother of Megan’s female friend. She cyber-bullied Megan by posing as an adolescent boy, targeting Megan’s low self-esteem, ultimately resulting in Megan committing suicide.

At the time this incident occurred, there was no legislation related to cyber-bullying. Lori Drew was charged with conspiracy and unauthorized access of a computer for violating the social networking site’s Terms of Service. Drew was convicted of three misdemeanor violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. She faced up to 3 years in prison and a $300,000 fine. Drew, however, never served jail time nor paid any fine. The conviction was overturned by U.S. District Judge George Wu in July 2009.

For this Discussion, review the Megan Meier case and current legislation on cyber-bullying outlined in “Guarding Against a Radical Redefinition of Liability for Internet Misrepresentation: The United States v. Drew Prosecution and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.” Consider how the outcome for the offender in the case might be different if the crime was to occur today.

Post by Day 4 an explanation of how the outcome might be different for the offender in the Megan Meier case if the offense happened today. Support your response with references to current cyber-bullying legislation and/or rulings on current cyber-bullying cases.

READINGS

  • Course Text:Taylor, R. W., Fritsch, E. J., & Liederbach, J. (2015). Digital crime and digital terrorism.(3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
    • Chapter 8, “Sex Crimes, Victimization, and Obscenity on the World Wide Web”
  • Article: Cooley, A. H. (2011). Guarding against a radical redefinition of liability for Internet misrepresentation: The United States v. Drew prosecution and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Journal of Internet Law, 14(8), 1, 15–28.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library using the Business Source Complete database.
  • Article: Drogin, E. Y., & Young, K. (2008). Forensic mental health aspects of adolescent “cyber bullying”: A jurisprudent science perspective. Journal of Psychiatry & Law, 36(4), 679–690.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library using the Academic Search Complete database.
  • Article: Gillespie, A. A. (2006). Cyber-bullying and harassment of teenagers: The legal response. Journal of Social Welfare & Family Law, 28(2), 123–136.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library using the Academic Search Complete database.
  • Article: King, A. V. (2010). Constitutionality of cyberbullying laws: Keeping the online playground safe for both teens and free speech. Vanderbilt Law Review, 63(3), 845–884.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library using the Academic Search Complete database.
  • Article: McCarthy, T., & Michels, S. (2009, July 2). Lori Drew MySpace suicide hoax conviction thrown out. ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=7977226&page=1
  • Article: Meredith, J. P. (2010). Combating cyberbullying: Emphasizing education over criminalization. Federal Communications Law Journal, 63(1), 311–340.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library using the ProQuest Central database.
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