Breaking Down Michigan’s New Cyberbullying Laws

 

Like most states, Michigan already has cyberbullying laws in place. The laws currently in place state that each school district has to have a policy against cyberbullying. However, those laws are specific to schools, and their students. Cyberbullying can happen outside of schools and to individuals who have been out of schoo for many years. This new law actually makes cyberbullying a crime and gives law enforcement a way to enforce anti-cyberbullying laws against people who aren’t students or when students do this outside of school and off of school grounds. It also covers if the behavior is committed using a telecommunications access device, or if the telecommunications service provider is owned by or under the control of the school district.

Michigan lawmakers took action to fight cyberbullying last year, and the law took effect at the end of 2018.

 

These new laws were largely put into motion because of the tragic loss of Zoe Johnson , a 13-year-old Michigan girl . Her mother believes she committed suicide after being bullied and taunted by classmates on Facebook. At the time, police said the social media posts did not indicate criminal wrongdoing.

 

“Cyberbullying can cause just as much trauma as traditional bullying so it’s important that it be considered a crime,” said Gov. Rick Snyder, in a statement. 

 

Part of Michigan’s anti-bullying laws is giving a definition of bullying and cyberbullying:

Stopbullying.gov, states that, “Bullying” means any written, verbal, or physical act, or any electronic communication, including, but not limited to, cyberbullying, that is intended or that a reasonable person would know is likely to harm 1 or more pupils either directly or indirectly by doing any of the following:

   (i) Substantially interfering with educational opportunities, benefits, or programs of 1 or more pupils.

   (ii)  Adversely affecting the ability of a pupil to participate in or benefit from the school district’s or public school’s educational programs or activities by placing the pupil in reasonable fear of physical harm or by causing substantial emotional distress.

   (iii) Having an actual and substantial detrimental effect on a pupil’s physical or mental health.

   (iv) Causing substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school.

“Cyberbullying” means any electronic communication that is intended or that a reasonable person would know is likely to harm 1 or more pupils either directly or indirectly by doing any of the following:

   (i) Substantially interfering with educational opportunities, benefits, or programs of 1 or more pupils.

   (ii)  Adversely affecting the ability of a pupil to participate in or benefit from the school district’s or public school’s educational programs or activities by placing the pupil in reasonable fear of physical harm or by causing substantial emotional distress.

   (iii) Having an actual and substantial detrimental effect on a pupil’s physical or mental health.

   (iv) Causing substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school.

 

An Artificially Intelligent New Threat to Women

Blackmailing using photoshop has been taken to a new extreme. Disturbingly realistic doctored adult videos are being made with the faces of both celebrities and everyday women.

One woman saw her own face seamlessly grafted, without her knowledge or consent, onto someone else’s body: a young porn actress, just beginning to disrobe for the start of a graphic sex scene. She described feeling nauseous and mortified, “I feel violated – this icky kind of violation,” said the woman, who is in her 40s and spoke on the condition of anonymity because she worried that the video could hurt her marriage or career.

 

Airbrushing and Photoshop have made photos to easy manipulation. Now, videos using ai and animation are becoming just as vulnerable to fakes that look deceptively real.

 

An article from South China Morning Post reported, more on this issue. In their article Deepfake’ porn videos used as weapons against women, they stated, “ Supercharged by powerful and widely available artificial-intelligence software developed by Google, these lifelike “deepfake” videos have quickly multiplied across the internet, blurring the line between truth and lie.

But the videos have also been weaponized disproportionately against women, representing a new and degrading means of humiliation, harassment, and abuse.

The fakes are explicitly detailed, posted on popular porn sites and increasingly challenging to detect.”

The issues and heartbreak that comes out of these videos is never-ending. This can hurt your job prospects, your interpersonal relationships, your reputation, your mental health,” Sarkeesian said. “It’s used as a weapon to silence women, degrade women, show power over women, reducing us to sex objects. This isn’t just a fun-and-games thing. This can destroy lives.”

These videos are also being used as propaganda. One clip went viral for targeting Parkland school shooting survivor and activist, Emma Gonzalez.The clip appeared to be showing Emma alongside three other women, ripping up the US constitution.

GOP activists were quick to share the video as supposed proof of her un-American treachery; in reality, the video showed her ripping up paper targets from a shooting range.

Unfortunately, victims of deep fades have few tools to fight back. Legally this is considered “nonconsensual pornography”, using similar strategies employed against online harassment, cyberstalking and revenge porn.

But experts say “deepfakes” are often too untraceable to investigate and exist in a legal grey area: built on public photos, they are effectively new creations, meaning they could be protected as free speech.

On a slightly better note, websites like Reddit and Pornhub have banned these videos.

For more information read, Graphic ‘deepfake’ porn videos are being weaponized to humiliate women here.