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MySpace Not Guilty in Child Assault Case 228

Posted by Zonk
from the sanity-in-the-courtroom dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Washington Post reports that a Texas judge dismissed a $30 million case against MySpace for their role in a child assault case. 19-year old Peter Solis lied about his age on MySpace to gain the confidence of a 13-year old girl. The judge ruled, 'To impose a duty under these circumstances for MySpace to confirm or determine the age of each applicant, with liability resulting from negligence in performing or not performing duty, would of course stop MySpace's business in its tracks and close this avenue of communication.'" What do you think? Good call?
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MySpace Not Guilty in Child Assault Case

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  • Re:Obvious (Score:2, Informative)

    by orpheum (1064692) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:03PM (#18029644) Homepage
    Absolutely it was a good call. Personally I'm sick and tired of parents assuming that organizations are going to take care of them and protect them from every single little thing that might hurt them or their family members, children included. If you can't teach your own children common sense on how to use a communication medium as volatiles as a website, then perhaps you shouldn't have an Internet connection in the first place. Even if you have anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-spyware, anti-phising and pop-up blockers installed on your computer doesn't give you the right to click on that link that says "Anna Kournikova naked! Click here!" or to assume that anyone you meet on a site like MySpace.com is legit. You seriously wanna go ahead and meet someone in person? Do it in a public place and only after you've spoken to them for several months on end.
  • Re:Texas Judges (Score:3, Informative)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:11PM (#18029796)
    Excellent choice. Parents need to take responsibility for their poor parenting instead of trying to blame it on external sources.
  • Re:Texas Judges (Score:5, Informative)

    by PFI_Optix (936301) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:26PM (#18030052) Journal
    Race statistics on current Texas death row inmates:

    http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/stat/racial.htm [state.tx.us]

    Compare that to the race statistics for murders nationwide that *should* be available here:

    http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/offenses/violent_cri me/murder_homicide.html [fbi.gov]

    I say should be because I can't currently view the page...my office's content filter doesn't like it. It should show that roughly half the murders committed in the US were committed by blacks, the other half by whites. Hispanic is not considered a race by the FBI, and are grouped in with whites--you'll need to account for that when viewing the table in the first link.

    It would appear that the death row in Texas fairly accurately reflects national murder trends, with blacks grossly overrepresenting themselves by commission of the crime.

    Tangent: There are roughly six times as many whites in the US as there are blacks. According to the FBI statistics, they split the murder statistics equally...making a black person six times more likely to commit murder than a white person. Of course, some 85+% of their victims are black; as a white man, I'm six times more likely to be killed by a white person.

    Right now some people who know me by a different name from a different web forum just figured out who I am :D
  • Re:Texas Judges (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:27PM (#18030066) Homepage
    You do realize that a parent can take steps to keep their child safe without actually harming their progress, yes?

    Take my parents for example. When we got the internet in my home for the first time, my computer was moved to the family room. My parents didn't stand over me watching what I did, but they at least were in the same room when I was online. In addition, they would check the history to see where I had been.

    As time went on, they began trusting my judgement more and more. My mom even had one of her friends start talking to me without telling me who she really was in an attempt to see if I would give out sensitive personal information. When she was satisfied that I wouldn't, the computer was moved back into my room and I was allowed to have privacy online (yes, that means they also stopped looking at where I was going.) Every now and then, either she or my step-dad would pose as a random person in an attempt to make sure I was still being safe with my conversations (I was a chat room fanatic for a while).

    Exactly 1 year after we got the net (8 months of which the computer was in the family room) and for my 12th birthday, they bought me a brand spankin' new computer and VERY rarely checked on me again...I think the last time they did was when I was 14 (I'm 23 now, for reference.)

    So you see? Parents can ensure their kids are safe without being imposing. When we first got the 'net, they sat me down and explained what is ok (first name, age, state, etc.) and not ok (last name, full address, phone number, social, birthdate, etc.) to tell people online.

    It worked splendidly.
  • Re:Obvious (Score:4, Informative)

    by Phat_Tony (661117) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:29PM (#18030084)
    It can not be as general as "all websites have common carrier status," like all phone companies and all package carriers receive, because there are plenty of legitimate web business models that work on the opposite presumption. For example, this is more or less the case with true.com [true.com]. Their whole thing is that they are trying to check people's identities to prevent jerking around with fake identities on dating sites. Now, I"m not saying they should be liable, but suppose that at some point the problem on myspace grows and becomes more serious, and some startup comes along with the business plan that they'll attract business, particularly from minors who's parents point them there, by guaranteeing the authenticity of their account holders. The whole point is that they check all of this for the safety of users who cant or won't take appropriate precautions and watch out for themselves, making it a safe, or at least safer, community. You can't let them be automatically exempted from responsibility for user verification too just because they're a website, if they're selling user verification as a product. Common carrier status for all websites would amount to legalizing breach of contract, or at least false advertising, for this kind of company, basically making their potentially useful business model worthless because it would be unenforceable.

    As long as websites aren't advancing claims regarding user authenticity, then I think they should have common carrier status. But the entire web shouldn't automatically receive it, it depends on the context. Caveat Emptor for any site that's not making specific claims regarding the authenticity of their content. For sites making claims, it would be taken on a case-by-case basis, and there may well be reasonable grounds for complaints and lawsuits.
  • Re:Obvious (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday February 16, 2007 @04:06AM (#18035918) Homepage
    Speaking of asshats, if you read on, you'll find the actual important precedent in the ruling:

    "If anyone had a duty to protect Julie Doe, it was her parents, not MySpace."

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