Finding the happy median

Throughout this experience of exploring the different sides of network neutrality and when are we abusing our freedom of speech on the Internet has not made me come to the conclusion that despite how often we use the Internet, precedents still need to be set for how to deal with certain cases.

I’ve also come across in my research that the abuse of our first amendment does not just end with libel statements that teenagers are harassing their peers with.  It goes much farther than that.  Some other incidents of suits that have taken place include:

By clicking those links, you will be directed to a plethora of cases that fall in each category that have been linked to our first amendment rights on the Internet.  I was very surprised to see just how many cases have actually taken place, many of which have set a major precedent for the future.

One thing I know for sure is that nothing can ever get solved peacefully unless we learn to be able to find that happy median with Internet users and the government.  I completely stand by the fact that by having a “big brother” (aka Broadband carriers) monitor what we say and take down whatever they don’t like is not the way to go about protecting people.

I can’t say that I know what the best answer would be on how to regulate the infinitely many articles, discussion boards, comments, messages, etc. that are on the Internet.  As much of a cop out I feel this is, the best thing to do is wait and see what happens.  And if there is a act that I personally don’t agree with, that is when the steps need to be put into action of stopping it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Megan Meier

Megan was on medication for depression and Drew knew this.

 

Several years ago, thirteen year old Megan Meier became the topic of every major form of mass media.  Unfortunately, her popularity was due to the fact that she had committed suicide at the hands of cyber harassment.   What just completely disgusts me (and I’m sure everyone else who is familiar with this story) is the perpetrator whom led to Megan’s untimely death was a former friends mother.

According to Lori Drew, 47, she became concerned that Megan was spreading rumors about her daughter after they had a falling out when Megan went to a different school.  So in order to get the truth Drew thought the best way was to create a fake myspace account of an imaginary sixteen year old boy named Drew Evans.  “Drew” would flirt with Megan and ultimately sucked Megan into believing anything “he” would say.

The online flirtation lasted for the month of September in 2006.  Then things took a turn for the ugly when Drew and several other conspirators started harassing Megan.  The last straw was when Megan was told that the world would be a better place without her.  Megan’s response was “you’re the type of boy a girl would kill herself over”.  Several hours later, Megan’s mother found her in her room, dead.  She had hung herself from her closet door with a belt.  Paramedics were unable to revive her.

It did not take people long to trace Drew back to the fake myspace account.  Megan’s parents pressed charges regarding

“that around September 2006 through October 16, 2006, Drew and her co-conspirators agreed to violate the CFAA by intentionally accessing a computer used in interstate commerce “without authorization,” in “excess of authorized use,” and by using interstate communication to obtain information from the computer in order to inflict emotional distress in violation of 18 U.S.C. “§§1030(a)(2)(c).

The only charge that Drew was found guilty of was being in violation of the CFAA as well as being in violation of Myspace’s Terms & Conditions Policy.  However, Drew was later granted an acquittal and never served any jail time.  Megan’s parents were deeply disappointed that Drew was not found guilty in essentially being an accessory to their daughter’s death because it would not set a precedent for the future cases that would arise.

However, some good did come out of this with the introduction of the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act, introduced in 2009.  With the passing of this bill it will finally have   a federal standard definition for the term cyber bullying.  The definition of cyber bullying would constitute a behavior being: repeated, hostile, and severe. However, the Act has been criticized for its broad language. If passed, the law would criminalize any online communication done “with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person.” This language would potentially implicate those who enjoy engaging in “trolling” or “flame wars” on message boards.

Right now, all we can do is wait and hope for the best.  But I am glad that actions are finally being taken against this terrible act.  In this case, Drew most certainly abused her right to free speech on the Internet, and personally I feel the consequence should have been the loss of her freedom.

To read more about Megan’s Act, click here.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cyber Bullying: What happens when there isn’t any network neutrality

One of the most popular ways we abuse our freedom of speech on the Internet is by “cyber bullying”.  Cyber bullying is defined as “when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor.”(Cyberbullying)

Here are some statistics that I found concerning cyber threats:

  • Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.
  • More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyberthreats online.
  • Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.
  • Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs. (Cyber Bullying Statistics)

This is happening all too often and it has only been recently that actions have been taken place to stop these harassments.  This particular topic hits close to home with me…

When I was twelve years old, I changed middle schools going from public to private.  At first I was really excited to meeting all these new people and the most popular form of communication was through AOL Instant Messaging (AIM).  And I was always willing to hand out my screen name in the hopes of making new friends.  Well, little did I know, some of my classmates were handing out my screen name to their other friends who I didn’t know.  They all banded together and would harass me on a daily basis.  Saying things like “You don’t belong at their school”, “No one likes you at this school, you need to go back to where you came from”, and “You’re fat and ugly, you have no taste in style”.

Ironically enough, each day I would go back to school and try to fit in with these people and each night the bullying would continue.  I subjected myself to this torture for months.  It led to low confidence, depression, and I felt like an outcast.

Finally one day the messages went too far, and I showed them to my parents who immediately took action by seeing the principal.  The girls said they were “just kidding around” and because they had been going to this school for years and had their parents were big investors, they merely got a slap on the wrist.  The bullying did stop, but I wished they got more of a severe punishment so they would recognize that what they did was wrong and was just as painful as getting into a physical fight.

When this happened to me, governments were just starting to realize how big of a problem this was.  It took some time on how to treat these cases because there was no set precedent for situations like these since before the Internet, bullying was done in person.  How do you punish someone for hurting you when there aren’t any visible scars?

This is the exception to when I feel it would be OK for Broadband carriers to regulate what is said on the Internet.  In this sense freedom of speech is being abused and is not going against what others may think is wrong.  In my next post I plan on explaining further the steps being taken to stop cyber bullying.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Preserving Network Neutrality

As a precursor to my blog, I want to mention the political actions that are being taken to regulate censorship on the Internet.  In 1996, The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) published the Telecommunications Act.  Which was passed by FCC, this basically gives Broadband Carriers the permission to play “big brother” and regulate what is being said on the Internet.  And if they don’t like something that is being said, then they have the right to take it down, without the publishers permission.  To read more about the Telecommunications Act, click here.

To mention some of the authority that Broadband carriers have…  They have the power to “read information as it is being sent, and filter it as they choose. They can change the speed and reliability of service, and they can block customers from using certain applications they don’t like. They have the capacity, and have shown a willingness to use it.” (Molly Kaplan Defending Free Speech)

President Obama is trying to work with the FCC to restore network neutrality.  However, it is the FCC who are becoming hesitant in taking the steps to prevent Broadband carriers from gaining the control of the Internet.

Here’s just a funny video of how Family Guy feels about the FCC

Personally, I have very mixed feelings about this issue.  The original meaning of freedom of speech still had regulations that we had to follow, or else we would be able to make threats and say slander without any consequences.  I whole heartedly believe that the FCC has no right in delving into our forums and monitoring what we say and taking down whatever they don’t like.  But there has to be a happy medium to keep the victims of these potential threats and libel safe.  And I plan on finding one.

.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The purpose of my blog

Hi everyone!

Thanks for looking at my blog.  My topic is about the freedom of speech and how it applies to the Internet.  More specifically, are we abusing this particular forum of freedom of speech? It has only become recent that laws had to start to being made to include jurisdiction in online realm.  When blogs and personal online profiles were becoming popular, people never thought that there would be the need to extend the law to cover these forums.

Unfortunately, due to these very public blogs there have been incidents where users as young as thirteen years old have been accused of libel statements.  Resulting in the accused party in court.

Throughout the process of this blog, I plan to explore different cases in which people have been accused of slander and how this event has affected each party.  As well as what steps are being taken to prevent these harsh acts from happening again.

I hope you enjoy my blog and feel free to leave comments!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment