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Some of the laws are specifically designed to apply to this setting through explicit mention of electronic communication, the Internet, or computers. For example, a generally applicable statute might refer to all devices or methods of communication, or it might not specify any particular setting. The Telephone Harassment Act makes it a crime to knowingly use a telephone or the Internet to transmit in interstate or foreign commerce any message to annoy, abuse, harass, or threaten anyone (47 USC 223(a)(1)(C)). These include, but are not limited to, laws that prohibit cyberstalking, cyberharrassment, enticing a minor, misrepresentation of age to entice a minor, threats, and cyberbulling. communicates with another person by mail, facsimile, computer network, or any other form of written communication with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm that person and in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; or ).

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the repeated use of electronic communications to harass or frighten someone, for example by sending threatening emails. The Court has more recently narrowed the definition of fighting words to exclude mere inconvenience, annoyance, or offensive content, and to include only “personally abusive epithets which, when addressed to the ordinary citizen, are, as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke violent reactions.” Cohen v. Additionally, states may not prohibit only certain fighting words based on their content. Speech advocating lawless action is not merely advocating the use of force or violation of the law. The Court has held that speech that advocates lawless action is not protected by the First Amendment. Speech that incites violence, commonly known as “fighting words,” has been defined as “words that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.” Chaplinsky v. Cyber Harassment is the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to harass, control, manipulate or habitually disparage a child, adult, business or group without a direct or implied threat of physical harm.

Cyber sexual exploitation is when an adult tries to lure a child into offline meetings. Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse or exploitation.

539, 555-60 (1985), the Supreme Court upheld copyright law against a First Amendment free speech challenge. The first two have been amended several times by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA, PL 103-322), which was recently reauthorized (S. It makes it a crime for anyone who “travels” in interstate or foreign commerce to use the mail, any interactive computer service, or any interstate or foreign commerce facility to engage in a course of conduct that causes substantial emotional distress to a person or causes the person or a relative to fear for his or her life or physical safety (A). The statute defines cyberbullying as “any act of bullying through the use of the Internet, interactive and digital technologies, cellular mobile telephone or other mobile electronic devices or any electronic communications.” Schools can prohibit bullying that takes place outside of the physical school setting if the bullying: ). Accordingly, some states have inserted language in their cyberbullying laws from the seminal Supreme Court student speech case Tinker v.

At least three major federal laws could be applied to questionable online behavior: the (1) Interstate Stalking Punishment and Prevention Act, (2) Interstate Communications Act, and (3) Telephone Harassment Act. A 1996 VAWA amendment (1) made cyberstalking a federal crime, (2) updated statutory definitions by adding new forms of cybertechnology, and (3) stiffened federal penalties. The 1996 Interstate Stalking Punishment and Prevention Act, as amended by VAWA, is the broadest of these federal statutes. A major limitation of this law is that it applies only to direct communications (for example, email or cell phone calls) between the harasser and victim. Lipton, Combating Cyber-Victimization, 26 Berkeley Tech. A violation occurs when a person uses an interactive computer service to knowingly persuade, induce, entice, or coerce anyone under 16 years of age to engage in prostitution or sexual activity for which the actor may be charged with a criminal offense. This statute prohibits bullying and cyberbullying in schools. Supreme Court guidance about whether students have a First Amendment right to electronically post school-related comments while off school grounds, which is where many cyberbullying issues arise.

It may cause alarm, annoyance or substantial emotional stress to the receiver.

The SA Law Reform Commission distinguishes between direct and indirect harassment.

Children and young people can be groomed online or in the real world, by a stranger or by someone they know – for example a family member, friend or professional.