“A cyberbullying case in Saint Charles County, Missouri, will test a year-old state law on electronic harassment. The law makes it a felony for someone 21 years or older to communicate with someone 17 years or younger by phone or electronic means in order to recklessly frighten, intimidate, or cause emotional distress to that person.”

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From CNET News:

… Elizabeth Thrasher, 40, allegedly posted a photo and personal contact details of a teenage girl in the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist during the spring. The teen reportedly received phone calls, e-mails, and text messages from strange men, prompting her to call the police.

Thrasher was then charged with the crime of cyberbullying under the statute 565-090, passed in Missouri in August 2008. Unofficially known as Megan’s law, the statute is named after 13-year-old Megan Meier who committed suicide in 2006 after being the victim of an Internet hoax set up by a schoolmate’s mother. …

This article describes the legal positions of both Thrasher and the State of Missouri on behalf of the girl she allegedly targeted for abuse.   Posting a fake profile that solicits sexual contact from men seems to be an effective way to really traumatize women.   Sadly,   it’s not clear these acts will be unambiguously illegal any time soon. One   “online freedom” advocacy organization that characterizes a telephone company’s efforts to track the comings and goings of its customers as “stalking” (see also) couldn’t seem to care less about women who are put at risk when their contact information is maliciously posted online; the malicious posters’ rights to anonymously lie, create false online profiles and orchestrate campaigns of abuse are apparently far more important than a woman’s right not to have strange men showing up at her home and place of work demanding sex.

–Ann Bartow

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