Is cyberbullying against the law anywhere in the world?
3 experts have answered
Yes, in about 16 of the 50 states in the US.
This is a good roll-up of the state of cyberbullying laws in the United States, listed state by state. It's encouraging to see from this that bullying is against the law everywhere, and one can infer that the various states all seem to be in some phase of considering how to extend that to cover online activity without infringing on freedom of speech, privacy, etc.
Two observations of how this gets done:
- There are some states that are just progressive and technologically aware and tend towards being early adopters
- But other states that don't fit that description may have been motivated to move early because of very unfortunate, high-profile tragedies resulting from cyberbullying.
There have been an unfortunate number of cases where cyberbullying (in rare cases by parents) has resulted in suicide.
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For a current online safety regulations, including cyberbullying in all 50 US States go to http://www.fosigrid.org/united-states/united-states-country-profile#state
For the online safety regulations in all 194 UN member states select from the interactive map at http://www.fosigrid.org/
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It's also important to remember that even if cyberbullying isn't a specific crime in many countries, the behaviour connected with cyberbullying will be against various other laws depending on the country.
In the UK for example, serious cases of cyberbullying could potentially bring prosecutions under the Protection from Harassment Act, and the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. The key is that behaviour that would be illegal 'in real life' is just as illegal when it occurs online.
I'm personally unconvinced of the need for new legislation, and badly written legislation could actually do more damage. There's plenty we can do to fight the insidious spread of cyberbullying through education and applying existing law.