Home > News > Twitter Stalker Is Free to Tweet, Federal Judge Rules • Bookmark   • Newsletters   • Register Search Options


Twitter Stalker Is Free to Tweet, Federal Judge Rules

Twitter Stalker Is Free to Tweet, Federal Judge Rules
Get XBIZ News
Dec 20, 2011 1:45 PM PST    Text size: 

BALTIMORE — In a defeat to prosecutors hoping to put tight reins on free speech over the Internet, a federal judge has dismissed a criminal case against a man accused of Twitter stalking.

The ruling focused on 18 U.S.C § 2261A(2)(A), a statute that was amended five years ago to make it a federal crime to "cause substantial emotional distress" by harassment over interactive computer services, among other conduct.

U.S. Judge Roger W. Titus, who ruled in the case, called the federal law "facially invalid" and dismissed charges against William Lawrence Cassidy, who the government accused of harassing and distressing Buddhist religious leader Alyce Zeoli with “uncomfortable” speech on Twitter.

The FBI discovered more than 8,000 messages predicting catastrophic disasters for Zeoli and her group, with tweets like, “Do the world a favor and go kill yourself. P.S. Have a nice day.”

Officers didn’t arrest Cassidy for his opinions, the Justice Department said, but because his tweets caused Zeoli “substantial emotional distress.”

But Titus ruled that the difference between Twitter and communication targeting an individual, like a phone call or an email, is that Twitter is more like a bulletin board, which can be disregarded.  

“While Mr. Cassidy’s speech may have inflicted substantial emotion distress, the government’s indictment here is directed squarely as protected speech: anonymous, uncomfortable Internet speech addressing religious matters,” Titus ruled.

Free speech advocates, including those in the adult entertainment who rely on Internet connsumer marketing, B2B deal-making and industry communication, scored the ruling as a win, just and proper.

Adult industry attorney Marc Randazza told XBIZ that "part of the cost of living in a free society is that you have to endure annoying people and annoying speech."  

"It seems bad enough when people waste the courts' time with civil claims that are really nothing more than someone being butthurt about someone else exercising their free speech rights," he said. "It is even more troubling when the government gets into the business of doing so."

Matt Zimmerman, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case, said no speaker should be threatened with prosecution — let alone held in jail as Mr. Cassidy was here — on the basis of allegations of offensive speech.

"Speech on social networking sites — as with speech anywhere — has the potential to inform and enlighten as well as to outrage," Zimmerman said. "It is imperative that courts recognize and uphold 1st Amendment protections in order to give all manner of expression sufficient breathing space to thrive online."

More ways to get XBIZ News:  RSS Feeds  |  E-Newsletters  |  Desktop Widget  |  Mobile
Looking for porn star news and behind-the-scene videos? Check out XFANZ.com !


Cam World: Jim Austin Puts Stripchat / xHamsterLive on the Cutting Edge

Meet Jim Austin, head of business development for Stripchat and xHamsterLive. Austin helps run the two free online communities where amateur models — women, men, couples and transgender folk —... More »

Crave’s Jack Morocco Brings Fresh Perspective to Channel Manager Role

Jack Morocco must be in the right career. They’ve been hit on by Nina Hartley and already had to fend off Ron Jeremy, all in their short one-and-a-half years with San Francisco boutique outfit Crave.... More »

Cam World: Cam Star of Month BlazeFyre Loves to Be a Pleaser

Webcam model BlazeFyre certainly is looking forward to a fruitful 2017. She just moved into new digs this past month, and is eagerly anticipating another banner year as a Chaturbate web model. The naturally... More »
Stay informed of the latest industry developments. Get XBIZ newsletters delivered to your inbox. Subscribe today!
Enter email address:

* To manage existing subscriptions click here.

Submit your press release to
multiple news outlets with 1 click.
Subscribe to RSS news feeds or
add free content to your website.
Access XBIZ news and articles
with your mobile device.
Access the latest issues of the industry's leading trade publications in digital form. View online or download for offline viewing.



Mar 31 - Apr 02
Denver, CO.

Eurowebtainment 2017

May 17 - May 20
Majorca, Spain

XBIZ Retreat

May 30 - Jun 03
Miami, Florida

XBIZ Miami 2017

May 30 - Jun 02
Miami, Florida
Everyday thousands of business professionals browse XBIZ's industry directory for quality products and services. Not listed yet? Your company could be losing potential new business. Submit your company today!
Use XBIZ RSS feeds to stay informed of the latest industry developments or as a content syndication tool for your website!