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Tech Connection: A Bill to Stop Cyberbullying

In this week’s Tech Connection, J.B. Biunno takes a closer look at New York State Senator Tom O’Mara’s legislation to prevent cyberbullying with a change to anonymous posting on the web.

Tech Connection: A Bill to End Cyberbullying

SOUTHERN TIER (WENY) -- Last year, a Buffalo teen took his own life.

14 year-old Jamey Rodemeyer -- harrassed for his sexuality -- was the victim of cyberbullying. The story grabbed national headlines, bringing attention to a new age problem that needs to be addressed.

New York State Senator Tom O'Mara is introducing a bill in Albany to help, and like Rodemeyer's untimely death, it too is making headlines.

"Why should we allow people in our society to make false accusations against individuals or harass individuals just because it's through the internet? That's the part that doesn't make sense to me," says O'Mara.

The proposed law would allow any cyberbullying victims to have the anonymous comment removed by a request to the website administrator. Then the anonymous poster will have a choice -- have the comment removed or provide their full name and home address.

"I don't think anything will stop (cyberbullying) completely, but it'll bring attention to the issue," says O'Mara.

O'Mara's idea is being called a double-edged sword.

If passed, the law could limit dangerous anonymous posts. But at the same time, if someone makes a highly offensive post, the poster -- as laid out in O'Mara's bill -- could choose to give up their identity. That opens the door for the victim to retaliate in real life.

"In recent days, there's been a lot of criticism about the message in this legislation, but really the intention was to get this discourse going, so that we can focus on the overall issue in cyberbullying," says O'Mara.

The bill isn't perfect, but it's attracting attention. An article about O'Mara's legislation was featured on the frontpage of Yahoo! -- one of the world's most visited websites.

O'Mara says the bottomline is to bring more attention to cyberbullying -- a problem that has proven to be shockingly dangerous.