REGISTER VIEWPOINT: 'Sexting' charges prove tech leaves law behind

Whatever else you might think about our local version of the teen "sexting" case, it's a sure sign that, once again, our l
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

Whatever else you might think about our local version of the teen "sexting" case, it's a sure sign that, once again, our laws haven't caught up with our technology.

To rehash: Girl sends to boyfriend, by cell-phone picture message, a picture of herself apparently of the sort you wouldn't want to be taken of your daughter. Sometime afterward, girl and boy break up. Boy forwards picture to cell phones of multiple male friends.

Girl is charged. Boy is not, although most folks' common sense would seem to dictate the boy's alleged conduct was much more malicious.

Justification: Can't tell where the boy was when he did his alleged forwarding. He was using a cell phone, you see, and there's no telling where he physically was when the picture was forwarded, so which cops get to charge him?

Is it that, once again, our laws and mores have been left in the dust by the march of technology? If it isn't trying to figure out how to tax a sale made over the Internet, it's trying to figure whether the creator of a Web site in Hollywood should be charged because someone in East Overshoe logged in and was offended?

Much of our law is based on place: Where were you when this or that happened, and based on that answer, which law enforcement agency -- whose jurisdiction is defined by geography-- charges you?

Meanwhile, modern communications are redefining the sense of "place." A "community" is a city, town or township, but it may also be any assortment of people with something in common, whereever they are.

And our laws may have to change to reflect that.

Thinking of that, one is immediately haunted by the prospect of our already insanely complicated laws becoming further complicated as they try to fit around this new ... well, complication.

Or it may be we'll reach the so-called "tipping point," and admit it's a free-for-all in cyberspace, and each of us is responsible what we post or -- view.

Meanwhile, it's worth remembering, kids, that anything you put up in public never, ever goes away, and it turns up in the damndest places.

That's always been true, really. Modern communication just makes it more so.