Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Government The Courts The Internet News

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?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

MySpace Not Guilty in Child Assault Case

Comments Filter:
  • placing blame (Score:2, Interesting)

    by physicsboy500 (645835) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @04:58PM (#18029546)

    In the end, according to the judge, "If anyone had a duty to protect Julie Doe, it was her parents, not MySpace."

    It's really amazing what's passed off as someone else's fault when the blame should have been placed on the people passing it. Congrats to the judge for making a great call and boohiss to the parents for trying to close down our beloved myspace...

    home of over a million unread emo thoughts.

  • by Hentai (165906) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:13PM (#18029818) Homepage Journal
    Actually, the guy didn't lie about his age - the *GIRL* did. She was 13, but claimed on MySpace - and presumably, in person - that she was 18. Kinda puts his actions in a different light, doesn't it?
  • Re:Moo (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:13PM (#18029832)
    If you were unaware common sense left the American legal system many many decades ago. For a good description you should check out the book "The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America" by Philip K Howard. Quite intersting, relatively short, and easy to read.
  • Re:you know (Score:2, Interesting)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:17PM (#18029896) Journal
    One episode of that show bothered me a lot, usually I actually "enjoy" it, in the sense that I see predators get what they deserve. Sick dudes showing up naked, expecting to meet an 8 year old boy, etc.

    One episode, however, had them posing as a 15 year old girl. Just under the legal age of 16 - I remember them distinctly saying that, in the chat, something like "i'll be 16 in a month". They engaged in lots of explicit chat, and "come on over and visit me" type stuff with an 18 year old guy, some kid who'd just joined the army.

    They grilled the guy forever, and portrayed him as some kind of sick monster, but I sat there watching this going "hey, the guy talked to someone only 3 years younger, every bit his peer, who actually enticed him over". At 18, I might have done the same thing. In fact, at 18, I did do the same thing (hit on 15/16 year olds). I hope that kid got a good lawyer, and I hope that lawyer successfully argued entrapment.

    In reality, he was probably never even charged - lost aren't, the "evidence" they gather is usually pretty shakey heresay type stuff.

    It just took the whole question of "child predators" out of the world of black and white, and slapped a nice thick coat of grey paint on it. Ever since then, I view that show (and programs like it) as witch hunts.
  • Re:Obvious (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:33PM (#18030158)

    There is a significant difference. THe phone company doesnt list your age and gender....

    Suppose I list a business number as Paul's Adult Entertainment, but I'm only 13 and my real name in Cindy? Should the phone company check to see if I'm an adult male? Do they have to?

    ...nor does it do peer to peer networking.

    The phone company does peer-to-peer networking as much as MySpace does.

    My only dismay at this judgement is that that the reason is interferring with MySpaces business, rather than assert user responsibility.

    Responsibility lies with the creep that molested people.

    The 13 year holds some responsibility and that should be noted.

    Ethically, perhaps, but legally this is not so. 13 year olds have no legal rights, thus have no legal responsibilities. Until they are granted the right to free speech, and the right to sleep with anyone they want, and the right to go wherever they want, you can't hold them legally responsible for saying the wrong thing, going somewhere they should not, or having sex.

    As for the ethics, I'm of the opinion that it is all of society's responsibility to protect and teach children until such a time as they can take responsibility for themselves. The responsibility in this case is with the parents of this child, who are supposed to be responsible for them and with the molester.

  • by TheCarp (96830) * <sjc@carpane[ ]et ['t.n' in gap]> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:58PM (#18030592) Homepage
    Thats pretty obnoxious. Actually this stuff tends to be shakey anyway since the definition of "assault" isn't what one expects it to be. I mean, most people, even in terms of non-sexual assault, don't really understand the difference between say "assault" and "assault and battery".

    Admittedly I was ignoring the fact that "sexual assault" includes "consensual" sex if the law says one of the parties "couldn't consent". The difference between everyday and technical legal use of terms can be head spinning.

    There was a case not too long back where an underage girl got into a bar with a fake id, was picked up by a major league baseball player (ok this was maybe 6-8 years ago... doesn't seem that long ago).

    Even though it was in a bar, and even though she had used fake id to get in, he was still convicted. Don't know if he appealed or the conviction got overturned, but I do remember being rather incensed that such a moronic verdict was handed down.

    -Steve
  • Re:Texas Judges (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:11PM (#18030824)
    Black people get blamed for a lot they didn't do and can't afford fancy overpriced lawyers the whites can. Is it any wonder we blame them for murders they didn't commit to ease our own burden?

    For proof, look at any confirmed serial killer, they are always white. Now ask yourself why that isn't the case in normal murders. Does it make sense? No.

    Like with Hurricane Katrina, it takes disasters like this to show how rasist society really is. When a cop is looking for a murderer, he's 10x more like to detain a black person than a white person. Now ask yourself why do all the convicted "murderers" are black.

    I suspect if you could administer a 100% accurate lie detector test, the black populations would be cut by 80% in prisons and the white population would skyrocket.
  • Re:Texas Judges (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PFI_Optix (936301) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:22PM (#18031018) Journal
    Black people get blamed for a lot they didn't do and can't afford fancy overpriced lawyers the whites can. Is it any wonder we blame them for murders they didn't commit to ease our own burden?

    Uh huh. So basically five out of six black convicts were framed for crimes committed by whites? Gotcha.

    For proof, look at any confirmed serial killer, they are always white. Now ask yourself why that isn't the case in normal murders. Does it make sense? No.

    Hyperbole, and grossly inaccurate. It's hard to get good statistics on serial killers, but I'll agree that whites dominate the category. Of course, serial killers are a specific kind of murderer with radically different motives than an armed robber or jilted lover. The profile for a serial killer generally indicates a measure of wealth...it seems that poverty produces few serial killers. Last I heard, blacks were three times more likely to be poor, so of course their serial killer rates are low.

    Like with Hurricane Katrina, it takes disasters like this to show how rasist society really is. When a cop is looking for a murderer, he's 10x more like to detain a black person than a white person. Now ask yourself why do all the convicted "murderers" are black.

    Proof? Proof? Proof? (/Ben Stein)

    I suspect if you could administer a 100% accurate lie detector test, the black populations would be cut by 80% in prisons and the white population would skyrocket.

    And I suspect if you actually put any stock in what you were saying, you wouldn't be posting AC. I also strongly suspect that all your statistics are hand-delivered by a proctologist...they were too deep for you to find without help.

    Here's my typical rant on this topic:

    There is a culture in America that appeals to the poor urban population, a population that is steadily becoming black in most of the country. It's a culture that glorifies violence, demonizes education, and preaches that success can only be had through conflict or physical prowess. It, like a lot of cultures born out of poverty, keeps those born into it uneducated and poor. The difference between this and other poverty cultures is that violence is a major part of daily life, and that is carried by those who rise out poverty--just look at professional athletes and rap stars. Because this culture maintains ignorance and preaches oppression, no outside influence is going to undo it. It's up to the millions of blacks in America who want the same things the rest of us want to put a stop to the cycle of poverty, ignorance, and violence that is plaguing them as a people.
  • Re:Frivolous suits (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:26PM (#18031084) Homepage

    Myspace is not liable for this any more than the phone company is liable for the prank and threatening phone calls. I don't know about the rest of the /. community, but I am dead tired of the continuous attempts to impose liability on the carrier for the content.

    If MySpace was a carrier - you'd have a point. But MySpace has nothing in common with the phone company (while the ISP providing acess to MySpace does). Don't confuse levels.
     
    I if built a building - and allowed kids to come in and hang out, decorate, dance, whatever... Under the law I'd sure as hell be liable if a adult or older child was preying on younger children in my building - but the transport system they used to get there wouldn't be. (Check out the legal concepts of in loco parentis and attractive nusiance.) Why should MySpace be any different?
     

    Verdict for the plaintiff would have been a horrible precedent.

    On the contrary - a verdict for the plaintiff would have been a wonderful precedent. Why? Because it would establish that the owner of a space is responsible for what happens there of he can reasonably prevent it. Whether that space is physical *or* virtual. It's the same as the pool in my backyard - if I don't take adequate measures to limit acess to it, then I am liable if a child drowns himself in it. (Hence, my backyard is fenced and has a locked gate as per code.) I don't see whay virtual spaces should be exempt from the same kind of regulation.
     

    This goes to the very core of undermining the openness and freedom of the internet, as a neutral medium for communication and sharing of information.

    On the contrary - reasonable regulation and openess and freedom are not mutually exclusionary. Consider the Federal highway system - anyone can acess it and go anywhere it goes as and when they will. But they may not drive on in such a fashion as to endanger the life and health of others. I can use the telephone system for a variety of purposes, entertainment or business - but I may not use telemarketing except under a fairly strict set of circumstances.
     
    And if you want the internet to open and free - then that applies to spammers and sites that open a dozen pornographic popups when you visit it as much as it does to MySpace. You can't have it both ways.
     
    And I find it bitterly amusing that the same Slashdot community who wants to put the blame on the parents in this case - raises a huge outcry whenever someone floats the idea of logging software as limiting the rights of the child. You can't have it both ways folks - either the parent is reponsible for the behavior (and thus has the authority to limit those rights), or they aren't and don't. Responsobilitiy and authority are twin sides of the same coin.
  • by Elemenope (905108) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:27PM (#18031096)

    That your other post should have been modded troll, you are still incorrect. This line of thinking does not give itself over to slipper-slope thinking, because societies, including ours, have the legal capability to decide where certain responsibilities shift from parent to child. Before that line, it is the parents' responsibility for the child's behavior. After, it is the child's. Charles Manson, for you example, was an adult when he committed his crimes, and so was legally responsible for them, and his parents really don't enter into the picture, except perhaps for psychological curiousity's sake.

  • Re:Frivolous suits (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rifter (147452) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @08:14PM (#18032594) Homepage

    And I find it bitterly amusing that the same Slashdot community who wants to put the blame on the parents in this case - raises a huge outcry whenever someone floats the idea of logging software as limiting the rights of the child.

    We don't raise outcry when parents log their kids' behaviour. Hell there have been a good bunch of threads where slashdotters discussed keylogging spouses/[boy|girl]friends. What we tend to object to tends to be more of the following:

    1) Porn blocking software that blocks legitemate content, as when, for instance a major software package that is supposed to be blocking porn, etc was blocking things like the Democratic Party website.

    2) Laws requiring bad software like the above to be installed in schools and public libraries. I don't think most of us mind the idea of schools and workplaces blocking porn as long as that is really what they are blocking. But in the case of libraries there is the question of blocking adults from things that are either inappropriately flagged or might legitemately be inappropriate for children yet are legitemate research sources for adults or even perhaps teenagers (teenagers make this sort of thing more complicated, which is just another reason to hate them :D ).

    3) Logging and such by entities other than parents, especially of adults. Context determines how egregious this is.

    Still, I'd say of all these things the one most likely to find a majority of slashdotters up in arns is the wrongful blocking of information, especially in the educational and research setting (like schools and libraries). I doubt you could find a majority of slashdotters opposed to the idea of parents being given *working* tools to stem the tide of pornography flying before their toddlers' faces. There might be a significant number who will say they don't want to overtly block their own children from any part of the net, but I doubt that the majority here really believes we should prevent parents from being able to do it if they choose to. Even so we don't like the idea that the parent who wants to keep their kid from seeing tubgirl will end up inadvertantly and unknowingly keeping them from seeing the world wildlife foundation website or wikipedia or something just because some asshole knowing their database is secret slips that kind of junk into the list of offending sites to be blocked.

  • Idiot people! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bgibby9 (614547) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @09:51PM (#18033636) Homepage
    The problem is, people feel that just because it happened through MySpace, that they should somehow by liable for it. To be technical, it actually occurred because of the people responsible for establishing and maintaining the networks over which the two people connected, and therefore the people who invented Ethernet were also responsible for allowing this to be possible.
    Terms and Conditions exist for a reason, so do Fair Use policies.
    I'm sick of idiots thinking that the world is to blame for their stupidity!

Put your Nose to the Grindstone! -- Amalgamated Plastic Surgeons and Toolmakers, Ltd.

Working...