Crime for Student to Post Image of Teacher (or Principal) “With Intent to … Torment”

That’s what’s provided by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-458.2, which will go into effect in North Carolina this coming Dec. 1. The law also bans discussing school employees’ sex lives online “with intent to … torment,” posting other “personal … information” about them with such an intent, and posting “an unauthorized copy of any data pertaining to a school employee” with such an intent:

(b) Except as otherwise made unlawful by this Article, it shall be unlawful for any student to use a computer or computer network to do any of the following:

(1) With the intent to intimidate or torment a school employee, do any of the following:

a. Build a fake profile or Web site.

b. Post or encourage others to post on the Internet private, personal, or sexual information pertaining to a school employee.

c. Post a real or doctored image of the school employee on the Internet….

(3) Copy and disseminate, or cause to be made, an unauthorized copy of any data pertaining to a school employee for the purpose of intimidating or tormenting that school employee (in any form, including, but not limited to, any printed or electronic form of computer data, computer programs, or computer software residing in, communicated by, or produced by a computer or computer network)….

(c) Any student who violates this section is guilty of cyber-bullying a school employee, which offense is punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor.

What “intent to … torment” exactly means is hard to say, because the term isn’t defined anywhere . The dictionary doesn’t help much; does the statute require an intent “to afflict with great bodily or mental suffering,” an intent “to worry or annoy excessively,” or an intent “to throw into commotion; stir up; disturb”?

Say a student learns that the principal whom the student has long disliked is having an affair with a subordinate, and thinks the principal should suffer for his dishonesty, hypocrisy, or for that matter general uncoolness. Would posting this information, coupled with a picture of the principal, constitute posting “sexual information pertaining to a school employee,” plus “a real … image of the school employee,” “with the intent to … torment a school employee”?

Thanks to Hans Bader and the Wall Street Journal for the pointer.

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