Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.Read through Volokh's examples of what could be deemed felonies under this bill: criticizing a politician in a blog; sending a nasty email to your former boyfriend, or perhaps using the internet to organize a boycott of a company people are angry at. Once you have these vauge criminalization of of causing "emotional distress" or "hostile behavior," you're opening up the door to all sorts of wacky persecutions before the courts eventually determine that this bill is unconstitutional. It might make the supporters feel good. Who likes bullies? But Congress won't be any more successful in outlawing cyberbullying than they were in outlawing internet porn.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Eugene Volokh has the goods on a proposed bill in the House called "the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act" designed to end people bullying other people through electronic communication.