A growing rate of cyber bullying incidents have thrown the crime into the headlines, but many victims say current laws don’t come close to providing enough protection. Cyber bullying, or the use of social media and other online platforms to harass an individual, is not explicitly called out as a crime in many states, and has been slow to be added to the books because many alleged cyber bullies claim free speech protection. Attorney James Phillipssays that First Amendment defense won’t last for long.

“Existing laws are very clear about when free speech does not apply,” said Phillips, an attorney who focuses on criminal defense. “Harassment is already illegal in normal, everyday life. Just because you log into Facebook doesn’t mean you’re suddenly allowed to break the law.” But without a specific law addressing it, cyber bullying can be hard to prosecute. Often times cases are handled under existing laws against online stalking, but if the perpetrator only harasses and verbally attacks someone, and never actually stalks them, the case can fall apart.

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