John Rivello was arrested Friday months after he allegedly sent a tweet that caused journalist Kurt Eichenwald to suffer a seizure.
This arrest appears to be the first of its kind and presents serious implications for the world of internet trolling, which seeks to annoy fellow users.
Eichenwald’s attorney Steven Lieberman and cyber jurisprudence expert Peter Stephenson told The Daily Caller Sunday they are unaware of any similar cases where an internet message or posting causing bodily harm and resulted in an arrest. Kevin Fu, a computer scientist at the University of Michigan, told The Washington Post, “This is a new era.”
Rivello, 29, is being charged under a federal stalking statute which says that someone can’t use an electronic communication service with the intent to kill or injure another person. Lieberman told TheDC that this law fits Eichenwald’s situation “like a glove.” The attorney said that someone doesn’t have to be directly touched for something to be assault and compared Rivello’s alleged tweet to poisoning someone.