You asked if such behavior falls under the First Amendment's freedom of speech umbrella. The Office of Legislative Research is not authorized to provide legal opinions and this report should not be construed as such. The primary purpose of an online chat room is to communicate information with other people through text in real time.
The First Amendment of the U. Constitution protects most speech from government regulation. While it would appear that such protections would extend to conduct in online chat rooms, case law has determined that certain narrowly defined of speech or conduct do not receive constitutional protection anywhere.
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Moreover, the courts have ruled that speech or conduct that becomes harassment cybdr stalking is not protected by the First Amendment under certain circumstances, and that speech aiding or abetting a crime is likewise not protected. In addition to case law, there cybsr several federal and state laws that specifically address electronic communications, while other generally applicable laws can apply to certain speech or conduct in an online chat room, although these statutes do not specifically mention electronic or Internet communications.
But, valid time, place, or manner restrictions on content-neutral speech are constitutional if chqt are 1 narrowly drawn, 2 serve a ificant government interest, and 3 leave open ample alternative channels of communication Ward v. Rock Against Racism, U. The U. ACLU, S. Despite favoring the First Amendment's protection of speech, the Court has enumerated several narrowly defined areas to which the First Amendment protection does not extend. Black, U. See also R.
City of St. Paul, Minn. United States, U. Speech advocating lawless action is not merely advocating the use of force or violation of the law. It must be directed to incite or produce roomm lawless action and be likely to do so Brandenburg v.
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Ohio, U. State of New Hampshire, U. California, U. Additionally, states may not prohibit only certain fighting words based on their content. Child Pornography The Supreme Court has ruled that child pornography is not entitled to any protection under the First Amendment.
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In New York v. Ferber, U. Constitution does not forbid states from prohibiting the sale of material depicting children engaged in sexual activity. Libel Libel generally refers to written false statements of fact that harm another's reputation and are distributed to a third party.
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New York Times Co. Sullivan, U. Copyright and Trademark Infringements The Court has determined that there is no First Amendment protection for disseminating speech owned by others, such as copyrights and trademarks. Nation Enterprises, U. Stalking and Harassment Conduct such as stalking and harassment may be prohibited without violating the First Amendment if the prohibition 1 satisfies one of the ly listed often threats or fighting words ; 2 the prohibition is a valid time, place, or manner restriction on content-neutral speech; or 3 is narrowly tailored to meet a compelling governmental interest.
See People v. Klick, 66 Ill. Hagen, 27 Ariz.
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Paladin Enterprises, Inc. Some of the laws are specifically deed to apply to this setting cnat explicit mention of electronic communication, the Internet, or computers.
Others are more implicit in their application. For example, a generally applicable statute might refer to all devices or methods of communication, or it might not specify any particular setting. A VAWA amendment 1 made cyberstalking a federal crime, 2 updated statutory definitions by adding new forms of cybertechnology, and 3 stiffened federal penalties.
Interstate Stalking Punishment and Prevention Act. United States v. Cassidy, F. Interstate Communications Act. Telephone Harassment Act. A major limitation of this law is that it applies only to direct communications for example, or cell phone calls between the harasser chxt victim. See Jacqueline D. It does not appear to cover messages posted on Internet bulletin boards or webs, social networking sites, or other one-way communications.
However, certain transmissions in online chat rooms could be covered. Connecticut Laws Connecticut has several criminal laws ycber could potentially be used to prosecute questionable anti-social behavior in cyber chat rooms. These include, but are not limited to, laws that prohibit cyberstalking, cyberharrassment, enticing a minor, misrepresentation of age to entice a minor, threats, and cyberbulling.
OLR Report R provides a detailed discussion of Connecticut cyberstalking laws and the amendment to those laws, as well as background information regarding these types of laws. OLR Reports R and R provide further information about cyberstalking laws in Connecticut and elsewhere. Under this law, a violation occurs when a person: 1. A violation of this law occurs when a person: 1. A violation occurs when a person uses an interactive computer service to knowingly persuade, induce, entice, or coerce anyone under 16 years cybre age to engage in prostitution or sexual activity for which the actor may be charged char a criminal offense.
There are three ways someone can be prosecuted under this statute: 1. A person can be prosecuted under this statute if he or she: 1.
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This statute prohibits bullying and cyberbullying in schools. Constitutionality of Cyberbullying Statutes Forty-seven states, including Connecticut, have enacted laws that explicitly address either cyberbullying or electronic harassment OLR Report R They have done so in the absence of U. Supreme Court guidance about whether students have a First Amendment right to electronically post school-related comments while off school grounds, which is where many cyberbullying issues arise.
Accordingly, some states have inserted language in their cyberbullying laws from the seminal Supreme Court student speech case Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. MC: car.