Missouri Takes on Cyber Bullies
The internet has become a gateway for innovation and communication but any new frontier has realizeable downsides. Lately these developments have been leading to less than positive outcomes with regard to invasions of privacy, the sale of counterfeit goods, defining public property and the most recent issue; cyber bullying. In the past, regulations for the internet have been somewhat less than concrete due mostly to the intimidation that comes from being the first to place restrictions on one of America’s favorite pastimes. This is not so anymore as the Missouri General Assembly took steps this year to crack down on the ever increasing amount of “cyber bullying” that is sweeping across computers nationally. Matt Blunt, governor of the Show-Me state, signed a bill earlier this week that includes all electronic forms of threatening communication in the definition for harassment. Previously, harassment included only threats that occurred face-to-face, over the phone or on paper leaving bullies enough room to continue tormenting others on the computer or other devices.
The state began its crusade a few years ago when a thirteen-year-old Missouri girl, Megan Meier, took her own life after a series of encounters with a cyber bully. The exchanges took place on the popular social network MySpace leaving no option for the young girl to report the grievances. MySpace is actively pursuing Lori Drew, the mother responsible for leading the actions against Meier, charging her with a violation of their terms of service through conspiracy and false identification, nothing for harassment. It is the intention of the Missouri legislature and the Meier family, with the full support of Governor Blunt, that no one will get away with this crime again.