Dispatch from the 2015 Tyler Clementi Internet Safety Conference

ICLT-Tyler-Clementi-Institute-for-Internet-Safety-Web-Banner-2015-v1r2In the fall of 2010, a young man named Tyler Clementi began his freshman year at Rutgers University in New Jersey. A couple of weeks into the school year, Clementi’s roommate set up a webcam to surreptitiously broadcast an intimate encounter between Clementi and another man.

Clementi, a gifted musician, learned about what had happened and saw in his roommate’s Twitter feed that he was planning to do it again. A few days later, Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.

Clementi’s roommate was prosecuted under then-existing New Jersey law, and I wrote about the case briefly in Cybertraps for the Young. Following the publication of my book, Clementi’s roommate was convicted on fifteen charges of invasion of privacy, hindering apprehension, witness tampering, and bias intimidation.

On May 21, 2012, Clementi’s roommate was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 3 years probation, 300 hours of community service, a $10,000 fine, and counseling on cyberbullying and alternate lifestyles. He served 20 days of his sentence, with 10 days off for good behavior and work credits.

In the wake of Clementi’s death, his parents Jane and Joseph Clementi established a foundation in their son’s name — The Tyler Clementi Foundation — to “promote[] safe, inclusive and respectful social environments in homes, schools, campuses, churches and the digital world for vulnerable youth, LGBT youth and their allies.”

To help further the work of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, New York Law School hosted a conference this past weekend that brought together “policy makers, political and business leaders, attorneys, social scientists, academics, teachers, students, and nonprofit advocates, all focused on the conference’s theme: combatting cyberharassment in all its forms.” A great deal of credit should be given to New York Law School Associate Professor Ari Waldman, the Director of the school’s Innovation Center for Law and Technology, for putting together such a terrific program.

One of the most powerful moments was listening to Clementi’s parents talk about the impact of their son’s death on their family, friends, and community. It is a painful reminder of the potential for any bullying, cyber- or otherwise, to have effects that ripple far beyond the intended victim. Everyone in attendance was moved by the courage of the Clementis and inspired by their determination to turn their personal tragedy into a positive force in the battle against cyberbullying and cyberharassment.

Here’s a run-down of the panels at the conference (a copy of the actual program with speaker bios is embedded below). Across the board, the presentations were interesting, informative, and provocative.

October 3, 2015

Panel One: The Role of Industry
Panel Two: The Experience of Cyberharrassment
Lunchtime Keynote
Panel Three: The Role of the Attorney: Representing Victims of Cyberharassment

October 4, 2015

Panel Four: The Role of the School: Creating Safe Learning Environments
Lunchtime Keynote
Panel Five
Keynote Address

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  1. P. Gilles Sieler - Reply

    Thanks for this article. It is really appalling when we see these situations of cyberbullying leading to suicide. However, it is good, very good, that these issues are being addressed at conferences, etc. This looks like a great conference. Hopefully, it will lead to saving lives.

    Thanks again.

    • Frederick Lane - Reply

      You’re welcome. Glad that you liked it. I was deeply impressed with commitment and energy of the attendees. I think substantial progress can be made on this difficult issue.

  2. Barbara Richards - Reply

    Hi Fred,
    We met at the first ever Tyler Clemente Internet Safety Conference. I am following up on our conversation re projects regarding the same. Want to know when we can set up a time to talk about it.
    Love what you’re doing

    Would love to hear from you soon.

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