Saturday, January 12, 2008

Megan Meier and Fraud

The fact that there were no charges filed after Megan Meier committed suicide as a result of bullying by an adult who assumed the identity of a teenage boy has outraged the public. There is no law that covers the situation and now various agencies are examining non-traditional ways of approaching the problem.

It brings to mind the prosecution of Al Capone for tax evasion. In this case, legal experts are looking into pursuing fraud charges. While this might satisfy some, it might created a dangerous prescient which endangers the right to anonymous speech on the Internet, a topic that has been discussed in many forums and upheld by the supreme course.

The consequences could have negative effect on law enforcement agencies who routinely use false profiles in efforts to trap predators. It could hamper whistle blowers and a range of other positive uses of anonymous speech.

While justice needs to be served, we must use restraint and foresight in the creation of legislation and the use of existing law to deal with the problem. The former will do little to obtain justice for Megan and the latter must be examined in light of possible negative impact in the future. A rush to either solution is ill advised.

The best way to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future is public education. Carefully crafted legislation may be an integral part of the solution, but education is the keystone. Children and parents have to know the impact and consequences of cyberbullying, as well as how to deal with it. Lest you think that there were no consequences for the perpetrator in this case, you are wrong. Whether you think it is right or wrong, the vigilante reaction to the incident has taken a heavy told on the entire family.

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posted by Art @ 10:12 AM   0 comments links to this post

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