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Court Says New York Cyberbullying Law Violated Free Speech

New York's top court struck down a law that made cyberbullying a crime, in what had been viewed as a test case of state and local statutes that target online speech.

The Wall Street Journal reported that in its 5-2 ruling, the New York Court of Appeals said the law prohibited too wide of a range of speech, thereby violating the First Amendment.

The court's ruling is significant for states and localities considering criminal penalties for cyberbullying, legal experts said. Besides Albany, four other New York counties and more than a dozen states, including Louisiana and North Carolina, have similar laws.

The 2010 Albany County law made it a crime to electronically communicate "private, personal, false, or sexual information," intended to "harass, annoy, threaten, abuse, taunt, intimidate, torment, humiliate, or otherwise inflict significant emotional harm on another person" for no legitimate purpose.

Cohoes, NY, high school student Marquan W. Mackey-Meggs was the first to be charged under the law, after the then-15-year-old created a Facebook page where he posted photos of teens that included graphic and sexual captions.

Corey Stoughton of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which represents Mackey-Meggs, told the Wall Street Journal "There are better and more constructive ways to address [cyberbullying] than giving children criminal records."

Despite the ruling, Judge Victoria Graffeo called Mackey-Meggs' posts "repulsive and harmful" and supported the intent of the law.

Read the full story.

Article by Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor

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