The Supreme Court ruled that to find someone guilty of making a "true threat" courts must first determine that the person recklessly disregarded the fact that their words might be perceived as threats.
This means that cyberstalking victims must prove that their stalkers understand the consequences of their actions when they bombard them with threatening texts.
George Washington Law School and president of the nonprofit Cyber Civil Rights Initiative Mary Anne Franks said that the Supreme Court has just decreed that stalking is free speech protected by the First Amendment if the stalker genuinely believes his actions are non-threatening.
She points out that the more of a nutjob the stalker the more protected the stalking.
The case, Counterman v. Colorado, concerns a man named Billy Raymond Counterman, who was convicted under a Colorado anti-stalking law after he sent a barrage of threatening Facebook messages to a woman he'd never met.
The Colorado law didn't require the court to consider Counterman's mental state when he sent the messages. It only had to consider his behaviour and how it was objectively received, whether he repeatedly contacted, followed, or surveilled his target in a way that would cause a "reasonable person" distress.
Counterman was found guilty under that statute, but he appealed his conviction, arguing that the First Amendment protected his statements and did not constitute "true threats," a category of speech that falls outside the bounds of the First Amendment because it wasn't his intention to threaten his target. In its decision, the Supreme Court overwhelmingly sided with Counterman.