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This Week in Social Media Law: Do Cyberbullies Have First Amendment Rights?
Posted on November 3rd 2012
Welcome to my weekly roundup of issues at the intersection of social media and the law. In this edition: cyberbullies claim First Amendment rights to freedom of speech (and lose), a company learns that the best defense against CAN-SPAM Act violations is a good contract, and the California Attorney General raises the bar for company privacy policies (for all of us).
But first, a reminder that the very technology that simplifies our lives – in ways not possible ten years ago – exposes us to a Pandora’s box of new risks. Barnes & Noble is just the beginning…
Bullying is still bullying when it’s done outside of school:
Two high school honor students in Missouri have learned an important civics lesson: the First Amendment does not allow them to post derogatory racial and sexual comments about fellow students. The website wasn’t intended for public consumption, but word got out when a third student posted a racial slur of his own, leading to a significant disruption in school. The students were suspended for 180 days when the school found out about the website, and their parents filed a lawsuit to allow them to return. An appeals court ruled that the school’s discipline of the brothers was warranted, writes Jackie Wernz (law firm Franczek Radelet):
“The court thus recognized that school administrators cannot sit idly by when off-campus, online speech of students disrupts the educational environment, and so some discipline has to be warranted in some situations.”
The lesson? For schools, disciplining students for off-campus activities is appropriate at times. For students? Cyberbullying will not be tolerated. (Franczek Radelet)
Wait – did that spam come from our account?
If you use a marketing company or vendor to send out email on your behalf, you might want to take a close look at your contract. Kathryn Ossian (Miller Canfield) reports on a recent court ruling that said a marketing company must pay the costs associated with a lawsuit against its client accused of violating the CAN-SPAM Act. Why? Because their contract included a clause that addressed that very situation. Chalk one up for the lawyers who drafted the contract… (Miller Canfield)
California Attorney General taking a direct approach to improving consumer privacy: