Tyler Clementi and cyberbullying: how courts ruled in five other cases

The trial for the roommate of former Rutgers University Tyler Clementi will be watched by legal experts nationwide to see how the court addresses the growing issue of cyberbullying. Mr. Clementi committed suicide after the roommate tweeted about seeing Clementi "making out with a dude" on his webcam.  

Here is a list of court proceedings where cyberbullying or Internet privacy invasion was a key issue – and how the court ruled. 

1. United States v. Lori Drew (2008)

AP Photo/Nick Ut
A camera operator covers Lori Drew as she leaves the federal courthouse in Los Angeles Thursday, July 2, 2009, after a federal judge tentatively threw out the convictions of the Missouri mother for her role in a MySpace hoax directed at a 13-year-old neighbor girl who ended up committing suicide.

Prosecutors said Lori Drew, 49, used the social networking site MySpace in 2006 to create a fictitious online profile of a young man who flirted with 13-year-old Megan Meier. Ms. Meier killed herself after the fake boy said the world would be better off without her. Prosecutors suggested that Ms. Drew – along with her daughter and a coworker – created the profile to see if Meier was backstabbing her daughter.

Although prosecutors had asked for the maximum sentence of three years in jail and a $300,000 fine, a Los Angeles jury decided in November 2009 that Drew was guilty of only three misdemeanors for accessing computers without authorization.

Drew was eventually acquitted of all charges in July 2009. US District Judge George Wu said convicting Drew would have set too dangerous a precedent. If she was found guilty of this, the judge said, an Internet user who didn’t follow the terms of agreement of a website could suddenly face criminal charges. 

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