Albany County Legislature Tackles Cyberbullies

Albany, NY – Cyberbullying is the repeated use of information technology to deliberately harass, threaten or intimidate others. The Albany County Legislature is taking a look at the issue when it meets tonight. Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

Albany County Legislator Brian Scavo is sponsoring legislation that would ban Cyberbullying -- he expects it will be the only law of its kind on the books in New York state and the toughest law in the nation to combat this newest form of harassment.

Under Scavo's bill, violators face one year in jail or a one thousand dollar fine. Tonight the bill goes through commitee, with a vote expected in early August followed by a public hearing. Cyberbullying has been a long standing problem among school aged children in suburban Albany County, and has been linked to teen suicide and other social problems.

In 2009, UAlbany student Denise Finkel tried to sue Facebook because four of her ex-high-school classmates maligned her on the social networking website. The case was dismissed because Facebook had immunity under the Communications Decency Act. Finkel lost her case against the classmates when a Long Island Judge ruled that no reasonable person could believe that the allegedly defamatory statements posted on Facebook were facts.Finkel was represented by Manhattan attorney Mark M. Altschul, who says he fears the judges' ruling sends the message that children or others can act without consequence. There's more on the Finkel case here.