Dismissal In MySpace Suicide Case Could Spark Cyberbullying Crackdown

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Monday, July 6, 2009

Dismissal In MySpace Suicide Case Could Spark Cyberbullying Crackdown

A federal judge's recent decision to dismiss charges against Lori Drew in the "MySpace suicide" case is already fueling an attempt to enact a new federal cyberbullying law.

"This decision is disappointing, but is a direct example of why we need laws to address new crimes like cyberbullying," Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) said in a statement issued after the case was dismissed. Sanchez recently proposed a law, the "Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act," that would criminalize online harassment.

Drew, an adult Missouri resident, was prosecuted for allegedly violating a federal computer fraud law by helping to hatch a plan to create a fake profile of a boy, "Josh," who sent messages to 13-year-old Megan Meier. The messages, flirtatious at first, eventually turned hurtful. Megan hanged herself after receiving a final message from "Josh" that the world would be a better place without her.

Sanchez's bill would make it a crime to send electronic communications "with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person." The bill would also require that the sender exhibit "severe, repeated, and hostile behavior."

Source: Online Media Daily