In the United States, the state law of New Jersey has a criminal offence that addresses the non-consensual distribution of intimate videos and images. The law prohibits distribution of video or photos of nude individuals having a sexual conduct unless that person has given consent for distribution of such photos or videos (Hinduja& Patchin, 2014).
Additionally, several states of Australia too have made laws that address the non-consensual distribution of intimate images and video, though some are just extensions of criminal harassment provisions. In New Zealand, the law reform amended the provision in the crime Act 1961 to make it a criminal offense distribution of intimate videos or images without the person's consent. However, it does not cover on the remedies in the case a person breaches the law (Bonanno, R. A., & Hymel, 2013).
In the case of Tyler Clementi vs. Ravi and Molly, to determine that the constitutional privacy of Tyler Clementi was violated, two things need to be certain. One, the offence needs to capture all modes in which the intimate images may be shared either through social networking, physical delivery, email, advertising or word of mouth among others. It may include publication, distribution, advertisement or availing an intimate image to another person. Additionally, the distribution of videos in whatever form ought to be done without the consent of the individual in the video or image. Second, the accused must knowingly distribute the video or image intentionally. Third, the accused, ought to have knowledge that the person in the video or picture did not consent to the distribution of the video or picture. The law further recommends that if one found guilty, the offence is punishable with at least five-yearincarceration.
From the above facts, it is clear that Ravi and Molly had violated the constitutional rights were violated. Reasons being the accused had set a webcam for Tyler Clementi while he was not aware while getting intimate. Second, they distributed the contents of the video without his consent. The fact that they set a webcam and distributed the video without his consent amounts to violating his constitutional rights to privacy. An example is a case of Michael Piznarski vs. Jane Doe. The two were students at Colgate University. During the summer, they had a sexual encounter that Michael was secretly recording. When they broke up, Michael threatens to post the video online. Jane filed a complaint with the police and obtained a search warrant for the apartment of Michael. The police managed to get a digital camera and a laptop that had the alleged video. Michael was convicted under New York unlawful statute on surveillance that is known as Stephanies Law. The law states that it is illegal to use any device to record secretly or broadcast a person having intimate when that individual has a secret expectation of risk. He appealed, and his appeal was rejected on the same grounds. The statute does not, however, apply to peeping Toms.
Whether the Offense Should be Considered Cyber-Hate, or Classified as a Hate Crime
The offence constitutes a hate crime and not a cyber-hate. A cyber hate involves the use of electronic communications technology to spread malicious information. The electronic communications include use websites, emails, and cell phone text messages. Cyber-hate means that the perpetrator of such an act wants to spread hatred via the internet or other means that have been mentioned above. For instance, if an individual is spreading a message of terrorism or racial discrimination, then that will be referred to as a cyber hate. A cyber hate is totally different from a hate crime. The act of Ravi and Molly to webcam him while he was getting intimate and spreading it implies that there was some hatred between the three parties. The intention was to hurt the feeling of Tyler Clementi by exposing him using the video. The offence can, therefore,be called a hate crime as the act was done out of hatred.
Why the Offenders were Not Legally Charged with the Death of Tyler Clementi
Ravi and Molly could not be legally charged with the death of Tyler Clementi. First, it is hard to prove that the motive of the two was to get Tyler Clementi killing himself. The motives of Ravi and Mollywas done out of the hate that they had towards Tyler Clementi. The main motive of the two can be viewed as a hate crime but not murder. They cannot be charged with the murder of Tyler Clement since their motive was not murder. Additionally, it is difficult to prove that it was the video that triggered killer instincts of Tyler Clementi. Therefore, they can only be charged with invading privacy. Even if it is the invasion of privacy that led to Tyler killing himself, Ravi and Molly cannot be charged with his death.
ReferencesBonanno, R. A., & Hymel, S. (2013). Cyberbullying and internalizing difficulties: Above and beyond the impact of traditional forms of bullying. Journal of youth and adolescence, 42(5), 685-697.
Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2014). Cyberbullying fact sheet: Identification, prevention, and response.
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