The Best Intentions: A Constitutional Analysis of North Carolina’s New Anti-Cyberbullying Statute

24 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2009 Last revised: 18 May 2014

Michael R. Gordon

CFRA Research; University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Law

Date Written: December 24, 2009

Abstract

Cyberbullying, which is bullying using technology and/or the Internet, is a new phenomenon that has devastating effects as demonstrated by the suicide of Megan Meier as a result of cyberbullying over MySpace. To address the problem, the 2009 North Carolina General Assembly passed and the governor signed HB 1261, “Protect Our Kids/Cyber Bullying Misdemeanor,” which criminalizes a large set of behaviors. This Recent Development analyzes the constitutionality based on existing First Amendment jurisprudence, including the Brandenburg v. Ohio imminent lawlessness test and the Watts v. United States true threat test. Most of the provisions of the new law fall short of these tests and are thus likely unconstitutional. As a result of vagueness as well as undefined and confusing terms in the law, it also may have a chilling effect on the exercise of free speech.

Keywords: cyberbullying, law, internet, computers, first amendment, free speech, true threat, north carolina, education, school

JEL Classification: K42, K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Gordon, Michael R., The Best Intentions: A Constitutional Analysis of North Carolina’s New Anti-Cyberbullying Statute (December 24, 2009). North Carolina Journal of Law & Technology Online Edition, Vol. 11, p. 48. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1469707

Michael R. Gordon (Contact Author)

CFRA Research ( email )

11140 Rockville Pike
Suite 590
Rockville, MD 20852
United States
(646)517-2461 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.cfraresearch.com

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Law ( email )

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CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States

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