Five Ways the Cyberharassment Clinic Is Protecting New Yorkers

NYLS’s Cyberharassment Clinic, led by Adjunct Professor Andrew Santa Ana, is the only law school clinic exclusively dedicated to helping victims of online harassment obtain justice.

Through the clinic, NYLS students help combat the growing phenomenon of online harassment by counseling individuals and advocating for broader protections. Many of the clinic’s clients are members of marginalized populations.

Professor Santa Ana, who is also Director of Legal Services for the nonprofit Day One, brings specialized expertise to this work.

Recent Highlights

1. The clinic participated in the Cyber Sexual Abuse Taskforce, a coalition of attorneys, academics, advocates, social workers, students, and survivors dedicated to fighting non-consensual pornography. This work laid the foundation for New York State’s passage of a new law, in July 2019, criminalizing non-consensual pornography. (A graduate of NYLS, Assemblymember Edward Braunstein ’09, authored the bill.)

2. Clinic students worked with NYLS’s Innovation Center for Law and Technology and Privacy Law Association to host a symposium addressing cyberharassment law and its enforcement in New York City.

3. The clinic counseled a client whose former partner stalked her and threatened to release intimate photos of her. Students provided the client with in-depth guidance on her legal options and potential remedies, with the goals of keeping her safe and holding her abuser accountable.

4. The clinic worked with another victim of cyberharassment and stalking by a former partner who had, among other threatening behavior, created fake online profiles to contact her. Students counseled the client on her options for reporting the harassment to law enforcement, seeking civil protective orders, and notifying individual online platforms of suspicious behavior.

5. Clinic students researched and provided testimony to the New York City Council on the impact of cyberharassment in New York City public schools. The testimony, which was well-received, provided new context related to cyberbullying, teen suicide, and the effects of cyberharassment on LGBTQ students, girls, and communities of color.

Setting the Stage

In 2017, clinic students provided testimony at a New York City Council hearing on the city’s version of a non-consensual pornography law. This law, which predated the New York State Law by nearly two years, was important in setting the stage for future laws.