By Eric Engle
Prosecutors Drop Controversial “Cyberbullying” Case: Possible Appeal?
On November 20, Wired reported that the federal prosecutors in the Lori Drew cyberbullying case did not plan to appeal Drew’s acquittal. The trial judge reversed Drew’s criminal conviction by a jury, holding that criminal penalties for violating a website’s terms of service would be unconstitutional. Although Drew won’t have to further defend against criminal charges for her alleged harassment of a teenage girl who later committed suicide, she might still be liable for civil penalties if the teenage girl’s family decides to sue.
UK Possibly Increasing Standards for Libel Jurisdiction
Britain has long had plaintiff-friendly libel laws relative to the United States and other common-law countries. As a result, plaintiffs will often seek to bring their libel cases in the UK, even if another country might be more closely connected to the facts of the case. However, the availability of Britain as a forum for libel claims may be narrowing – Citizen Media Law Blog reports that a recent High Court decision dismissed a libel claim concerning a posting on a South African magazine’s website, reasoning that the country’s ties to the case were insufficient when only “about [four] visits might have been made by one or more visitors based in the UK.” Although the holding is not permanent British law unless either Parliament or the British Supreme Court endorses it, the decision may signal tougher jurisdictional requirements for British libel claims.
Woman Fighting Insurer After Facebook Posting Leads to Denial of Benefits
CBC News reports that a Quebec woman has had insurance benefits for depression cancelled after publishing vacation photos. The insurance agent claimed that photos of her enjoying her vacation were evidence that she wasn’t depressed. The woman is planning to challenge the denial, and her lawyer has described the Facebook investigation as inappropriate. In response to criticisms about Facebook postings as evidence of mental condition, the insurer stated: “We would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook.”
ACLU Launches dotRights.org
The Stanford Center for Internet and Society reports that the ACLU of Northern California has launched an online educational resource on privacy and free speech in the internet. The site includes a retro-style video, Facebook quiz, and the chance for developers and legal activists to get involved.