CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The expansion of criminal harrassment prohibitions

Eugene Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy has this post inspired by the "unfortunate situation involving the apparent arrest of Aaron Walker for blogging about the convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin" and summarizing and linking to an early draft of his forthcoming piece. In part:

A few decades ago, criminal “harassment” usually referred to telephone harassment — unwanted communications to a particular person. Likewise, stalking laws were originally created to deal with people who were physically following a person, or trying to talk to that person. The same has historically been true with regard to restraining orders.

But, increasingly, these laws have been reworded or interpreted in ways that also cover speech about a person, even when that speech is communicated to potentially willing listeners; this is especially true with regard to recent proposals to ban “cyber-harassment” or “cyber-bullying.” And, as the examples given above show, such laws are indeed being used in precisely these ways.

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