Cyberbullying and Bullying Used As Pretexts for Censorship

We read:
"In the name of fighting “cyberbullying,” many New York legislators would like to force blogs to remove blog comments that offend readers, unless they “disclose information about the authorship of the supposedly offensive post including the writer’s name and home address.” As a law professor notes, the cost of doing that “might well be prohibitive for many Web site operators, whose only option at that point would be just to delete all the comments.”

On the bright side, the Tennessee legislature has belatedly heeded public criticism, and limited the state’s ban on posting images that “cause emotional distress” to comply with the First Amendment.

The U.S. Senate has passed restrictions on speech aimed at cyberbullying and “harassment” that UCLA School of Law’s Eugene Volokh has concluded violate the First Amendment, including an expansion of “stalking” provisions that were used unsuccessfully to prosecute a Twitter user who repeatedly criticized a religious leader. These provisions are contained in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011, in a version of the bill that has passed the Senate but not the House.


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