New York’s highest court said on Tuesday that a law designed to criminalize cyberbullying was so broad that it violated the First Amendment, marking the first time a U.S. court weighed the constitutionality of such a law.
The 2011 Albany County law banned electronic communication intended to “harass, annoy, threaten…or otherwise inflict significant emotional harm on another person.”
The law was challenged on First Amendment grounds by Marquan Mackey-Meggs, who at age 15 in 2011 pleaded guilty under the law to creating a Facebook page that included graphic sexual comments alongside photos of classmates at his Albany-area high school.
The Court of Appeals in a 5-2 decision said it was possible to pass a law outlawing bullying via social media or text message that respected free speech rights, but the county’s statute went too far.
Cyber Safety Cop Analysis:
This latest court decision highlights the difficulty to legally assign consequences to cyber-bullying, while at the same time not infringe on our 1st Amendment Constitutional right to free speech.
As I have stated in an earlier blog post, civil lawsuits maybe the only and best remedy to cyber-bullying. Parents must be an active participant in their children’s online world. Most parents will find this to be an overwhelming proposition. Cyber Safety Cop’s workshop for parents will equip them with the necessary tools and knowledge to properly supervise their children online.