On 16th March, a 20 year old student at a University in America was convicted in a cyber bullying case. The matter emphasises the growth in this area of law and how, rather than being a new area of law, cyber crime is, more often than not, new methods to commit age-old crimes.
Dharun Ravi shared a room in aNew Jersey University with Tyler Clementi, an 18 year old fellow student. Days before starting Uni, Clementi has come out as gay to his parents and was described by fellow students as being socially awkward.
In September, Clementi had told his roommate that he was expecting company and wanted to have the room to himself. Ravithen set a webcam up to film Clementi’s bed and spread the word on Facebook and Twitter that there would be a live feed. Clementi later had a second date with the man and, again,Raviadvertised the live webcam feed on social media sites. Clementi became aware of what had happened and killed himself soon after.
Raviand a friend were arrested by police and charged with various offences including “invasion of privacy”, “transmitting a sexual encounter” and “bias intimidation”. The roommate pleaded guilty and gave evidence againstRavi, who continued to protest his innocence. Last Friday,Raviwas found guilty of “invasion of privacy”, hindering apprehension”, “witness intimidation” and “bias intimidation”. He is due to be sentenced in May.
So this is a case that is centred around computers and, in fact, most of the evidence presented was found on computers. The Jury were provided with information from Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, text messages, emails and other online media. Unlike homophobic hate crime from times gone by, it is difficult for the evidence to disappear or the witnesses to not want to come to Court. The cyber equivalent to the real life bully is etched into permanence forever. AsRavihas found, it is difficult to hide when your life is recorded on a computer.