Newsletters
News & Information for Technology Purchasers NewsFactor Sites:       NewsFactor.com     Enterprise Security Today     CRM Daily     Business Report     Sci-Tech Today  
   
This ad will display for the next 20 seconds. Click for more information, or
Home Enterprise I.T. Cloud Computing Applications Hardware More Topics...
World Wide Web
DDoS Protection Powered By Verisign
Average Rating:
Rate this article:  
High Court Will Hear Appeal Over Illegal Threats Online

High Court Will Hear Appeal Over Illegal Threats Online
By Sam Hananel

Share
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Share on Google Plus

Free speech or illegal threats? The Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether people who post violent or threatening language on Facebook and other Internet forums must show intent to follow through on their threats in order to be prosecuted. When do threatening comments made on social media sites cross the line into criminal activity?
 


The Supreme Court will consider the free speech rights of people who use violent or threatening language on Facebook and other electronic media where the speaker's intent is not always clear.

The court on Monday agreed to take up the case of an eastern Pennsylvania man sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison for posting violent online rants against his estranged wife, law enforcement officials and former co-workers.

A federal appeals court rejected Anthony Elonis' claim that his comments were protected by the First Amendment. He says he never meant to carry out the threats. He claims he was depressed and made the online posts in the form of rap lyrics as a way of venting his frustration after his wife left him.

At his trial, the jury was instructed that Elonis could be found guilty if an objective person could consider his posts to be threatening. Attorneys for Elonis argue that the jury should have been told to apply a subjective standard and decide whether Elonis meant the messages to be understood as threats.

Elonis's lawyers say a subjective standard is appropriate given the impersonal nature of communication over the Internet, which can lead people to misinterpret messages. They argue that comments intended for a smaller audience can be viewed by others unfamiliar with the context and interpret the statements differently than was intended.

The Obama administration says requiring proof of a subjective threat would undermine the purpose of the federal law prohibiting threats.

The high court said it will consider whether conviction of threatening another person under federal law "requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten."

For more than 40 years, the Supreme Court has said that "true threats" to harm another person are not protected speech under the First Amendment. But the court has cautioned that laws prohibiting threats must not infringe on constitutionally protected speech. That includes "political hyperbole" or "unpleasantly sharp attacks" that fall shy of true threats.

The federal statute targeting threats of violence is likely to be used more often in the coming years "as our speech increasingly migrates from in-person and traditional handwritten communication to digital devices and the Internet," said Clay Calvert, a law professor at the University of Florida.

Calvert, one of several free speech advocates who submitted a legal brief urging the court to use a subjective standard, said people mistakenly seem to feel that they can get away with more incendiary speech on the Internet, in tweets and in texts.

Elonis' estranged wife testified at his trial the postings made her fear for her life. One post about his wife said, "There's one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I'm not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts."

FBI agents visited Elonis at home after the amusement park that fired him contacted law enforcement officials about his posts. After the agents left, Elonis wrote: "Little agent lady stood so close, took all the strength I had not to turn the (woman) ghost. Pull my knife, flick my wrist and slit her throat."
 


© 2014 Associated Press under contract with NewsEdge. All rights reserved.
 

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

Real Americans Take Actio:

Posted: 2014-06-17 @ 1:44pm PT
If You don't have something nice to say. Then keep it to yourself. Free Speech - you have the right to say it - we have the right to respond accordingly. But I'd like to point out this is not speech - this is publishing, posting, intended for others to see - intended to cause distress which is harm. THIS IS WRITTEN WORD!!! not "speech"



Salesforce.com is the market and technology leader in Software-as-a-Service. Its award-winning CRM solution helps 82,400 customers worldwide manage and share business information over the Internet. Experience CRM success. Click here for a FREE 30-day trial.


 World Wide Web
1.   Google Buys Contextual Image Startup
2.   Google IPO Began Decade of Big Bets
3.   Assange Talks of Leaving Embassy
4.   Russian Hacker To Be Held Until Trial
5.   Police: Be Careful What You Tweet


advertisement
OkCupid Experiments with Daters
Unethical without user consent?
Average Rating:
Russian Hacker To Be Held Until Trial
Prosecutors fear he would flee country.
Average Rating:
Google IPO Began Decade of Big Bets
And Larry Page wants to push further.
Average Rating:
Product Information and Resources for Technology You Can Use To Boost Your Business

Network Security Spotlight
Chinese Hackers Nab Info on Millions of U.S. Patients
A group of Chinese hackers has stolen the personal information, including names and Social Security numbers, of about 4.5 million patients at hospitals operated by Community Health Systems.
 
Premier FBI Cybersquad in U.S. To Add Agents
After helping prosecutors charge Chinese army officials with stealing trade secrets from major companies and by snaring a Russian-led hacking ring, the premier FBI cyber-squad is getting a boost.
 
Apple Opens iCloud Data Center in China
Treading lightly, Apple acknowledged it has started to store encrypted iCloud personal data of some Chinese users on servers in mainland China, operated by the state-owned China Telecom.
 

Enterprise Hardware Spotlight
Compression, Deduplication Come to Violin Concerto 2200
Violin Memory has announced that data deduplication and compression capabilities are now available on its Concerto 2200 solution. Typically, users will experience deduplication rates between 6:1 and 10:1.
 
Cisco Axes 6,000 Employees in Restructuring Plan
Faced with declining profits, Cisco is laying off up to 6,000 employees in the months ahead -- a whopping 8 percent of its global workforce. That's in addition to the 4,000 jobs Cisco cut last year.
 
Web Slows, Have Internet Routers Reached The Limit?
If you encountered problems connecting to the Internet on August 12, you weren't alone. Networking experts blame the wide-scale slowdown on outdated routing systems that are reaching their limits.
 

Mobile Technology Spotlight
HTC Debuts Windows Phone Version of One M8 Smartphone
HTC is bringing the Windows Phone mobile OS to its flagship One M8 device -- the first time any mainstream flagship smartphone has been offered with a choice of operating systems.
 
Verizon Earns Top Rating in Mobile Network Comparison
A new report says Verizon Wireless was the top-performing U.S. cellphone service provider in the first half of 2014, on a nationwide and state-by-state basis, as well as in metro areas.
 
Sprint Comes Out with Data Guns Blazing
As its new CEO promised, Sprint has rolled out a new aggressively competitive price plan. The shared data plans promise twice the high-speed data and at lower prices than AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
 

Navigation
NewsFactor Network
Home/Top News | Enterprise I.T. | Cloud Computing | Applications | Hardware | Mobile Tech | Big Data | Communications
World Wide Web | Network Security | Data Storage | CRM Systems | Microsoft/Windows | Apple/Mac | Linux/Open Source | Personal Tech
Press Releases
NewsFactor Network Enterprise I.T. Sites
NewsFactor Technology News | Enterprise Security Today | CRM Daily

NewsFactor Business and Innovation Sites
Sci-Tech Today | NewsFactor Business Report

NewsFactor Services
FreeNewsFeed | Free Newsletters

About NewsFactor Network | How To Contact Us | Article Reprints | Careers @ NewsFactor | Services for PR Pros | Top Tech Wire | How To Advertise

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
© Copyright 2000-2014 NewsFactor Network. All rights reserved. Article rating technology by Blogowogo. Member of Accuserve Ad Network.