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July 1, 2014- The NY Supreme Court ruled that a 2010 state law passed to outlaw “cyberbullying” was unconstitutional. The judges viewed the law as infringing on the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and of the press.
The WSJ reports, “The Albany 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.
The New York Court of Appeals, in a 5-2 ruling, held on Tuesday that the 2010 Albany County law prohibited a vast swath of speech “far beyond the cyberbullying of children,” in violation of the First Amendment.”.
Despite this ruling, the laws against harassment and defamation are still clear. However, police seem to have been arresting people for “harassment” more easily, with a lower threshold of proof, emboldened by the cyberbullying law. For example, a teacher in Brooklyn was arrested for posting a scathing comment online about the DOE, clearly acting as a whistleblower.
Of note, BatteryPark.TV was scheduled to interview today a team running an “institute” to raise awareness of cyberbullying, and they were no-shows. This court decision could have been the reason.