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Why Must You Be Mean to Me? - Crime, Punishment and Online Personality

24 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2008 Last revised: 5 Mar 2009

Chris Reed

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law

Date Written: February 4, 2009

Abstract

The development of online social spaces such as YouTube, MySpace and Second Life, has created new opportunities for their users to behave towards others in a way which constitutes offline offences such as harassment. It has also enabled users to create online personae which are distinct from, and in many cases not obviously connected to, their real-world personality. This article explores three questions: whether the redress mechanisms built in to those online spaces provide sufficient remedies that the criminal law should, at least for the present, stand aloof; whether existing criminal law can protect those online personae; and whether the law might be extended to protect them on the basis that they are some kind of property or exhibit sufficient elements of personhood.

Keywords: internet, crime, harassment, virtual worlds, online communities, personhood

JEL Classification: K14, K19, K39, K42

Suggested Citation

Reed, Chris, Why Must You Be Mean to Me? - Crime, Punishment and Online Personality (February 4, 2009). Queen Mary School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 9/2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1305125 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1305125

Chris Reed (Contact Author)

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law ( email )

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