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User Charged With Felony For Using Fake Name On MySpace 931

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the understand-before-you-prosecute dept.
Recently a user, Lori Drew, was charged with a felony for the heinous crime of pretending to be someone else on the Internet. Using the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Lori was charged for signing up for MySpace using a fake name. "The access to MySpace was unauthorized because using a fake name violated the terms of service. The information from a "protected computer" was the profiles of other MySpace users. If this is found to be a valid interpretation of the law, it's really quite frightening. If you violate the Terms of Service of a website, you can be charged with hacking. That's an astounding concept. Does this mean that everyone who uses Bugmenot could be prosecuted? Also, this isn't a minor crime, it's a felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment per count. In Drew's case she was charged with three counts for accessing MySpace on three different occasions."
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User Charged With Felony For Using Fake Name On MySpace

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2008 @03:54PM (#24088149)
    first post
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FunkyELF (609131)
      -1 Offtopic?
      Read the subject, not the content... I'd bet that it isn't his real name.
      • Re:I'm George Bush (Score:4, Insightful)

        by wamerocity (1106155) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @02:35AM (#24096129) Journal
        I can't even tell you how many websites I've given with my name as "My Balls" or "Your Mama" with a corresponding email address of myballs@myballs.com because I really don't need any more spam, nor did I have any desire to give away my real information. In fact, I don't have a myspace page, but had to get some images from a friends, so I had so sign up, which I think I used the name "Joe Mama." I didn't realize that doing so made me a hacking terrorist!
  • What the.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dahitokiri (1113461) on Monday July 07, 2008 @03:56PM (#24088183)
    FUCK?! Do the people that make laws have absolutely ANY idea how the internet works and is used? Are they even living on the same planet as the rest of us? Jesus. Fucking. Christ.
    • Re:What the.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by rodgster (671476) <rodgster.yahoo@com> on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:04PM (#24088339) Journal

      This is about the girl who committed suicide.

      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24670474/ [msn.com]

      And I agree. I think they should have taken a different angle in the prosecution.

      • Re:What the.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by snowgirl (978879) * on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:36PM (#24088957) Journal

        >_ Yet another thing where someone did something heinous, and can't be charged for it, because there was no law against it.

        As sick as what she did, I don't see how faking an identity in order to harass someone until the point that they kill themselves would not be covered under like, involuntary manslaughter at the very least.

        At the very least, I'm sure there are laws protecting people against other people sending harassing and intimidating emails. I know it happened at college (almost every other year, there was a story about someone who faked an email address in order to harass someone.)

        Unfortunately, if nothing else sticks, then TOO BAD. The protection of "everyone is equal in the eyes of the law" is that laws shouldn't be jury-rigged to punish someone for something that was otherwise something not illegal.

        I recall there was a problem in Enumclaw with a man who would film himself having intercourse with a horse, and eventually ended up puncturing his intestines and died from it. As a result, prosecutors tried to get his friend who was filming for something, anything, but there were no real laws against bestiality at the time. So, they had to go with a misdemeanor or something of "animal abuse". Either way, they changed the law to ensure that someone couldn't do it again, or anymore.

        So, the state they're in needs to pass a new law, saying that creating a false identity for the express purpose of harassing someone else is illegal. BOOM, problem solved for the future. Does it suck that she gets off? Yeah, it does, but that's how law is supposed to work.

        But then, the only way we got Capone in jail was with tax-evasion... so...

        • Re:What the.... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by homer_s (799572) on Monday July 07, 2008 @05:10PM (#24089573)
          As sick as what she did, I don't see how faking an identity in order to harass someone until the point that they kill themselves would not be covered under like, involuntary manslaughter at the very least.

          We have a woman in the office who gets offended if she sees two people talking quietly - because she just assumes that they're talking about her.
          So, if she gets depressed about this and kills herself, you'd want everyone in the office to be charged with involuntary manslaughter?

          You have to base laws on the act and not on the effect the act has on someone.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          someone did something heinous, and can't be charged for it, because there was no law against it ...the state they're in needs to pass a new law, saying that creating a false identity for the express purpose of harassing someone else is illegal.

          If the prosecutors couldn't find a law related to psychologically abusing somebody until they commit suicide, then probably they're not very good prosecutors.

          If their laws really are crafted so this can't be conceivably called murder or manslaughter or bullying, then probably they're not very good legislators, and they should fix it.

          But there's no reason any such law need to be concerned with false identities or cyberspace.

        • by Valdrax (32670) on Monday July 07, 2008 @05:28PM (#24089875)

          As sick as what she did, I don't see how faking an identity in order to harass someone until the point that they kill themselves would not be covered under like, involuntary manslaughter at the very least.

          They're just doing what any good prosecutor does -- throwing everything they can at the wall to see what sticks.

          That said, I think this is a real loser for the prosecution. There's no way the Supreme Court is going to let people be criminally liable for failing to obey a contract of adhesion. That's just madness. I doubt that this'll survive even at the trial level if her defense attorney hasn't forget everything about unconscionability since graduating law school years ago.

        • Re:What the.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by White Flame (1074973) on Monday July 07, 2008 @06:02PM (#24090389)

          Creating permanent law to address temporary or one-off social problems or self-destructionism is exactly why our legal system is so screwed up today.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by snowraver1 (1052510)

      Do the people that make laws have absolutely ANY idea how the internet works and is used? Are they even living on the same planet as the rest of us?

      I realize that this was likely a rhetorical question, but IMO, the rulemakers do not live in the same world as us slashdotters. I would bet that many of the lawmakers still have VCRs hooked up, and the clock has been blinking 12:00 for 10 years. The lawmakers are just like every other "old" person. They call thier son/nephew/grandson for technical support w

    • Re:What the.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Otter (3800) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:11PM (#24088475) Journal

      Do the people that make laws have absolutely ANY idea how the internet works and is used?

      Yes, they do. They're not interested in enforcing this in general, but if you pull a stupid, nasty stunt that turns out worse than you'd imagined and they're under public pressure to do something to you (as is the case here), they have something in their pockets with which to charge you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by oahazmatt (868057)

        Do the people that make laws have absolutely ANY idea how the internet works and is used?

        Yes, they do. They're not interested in enforcing this in general, but if you pull a stupid, nasty stunt that turns out worse than you'd imagined and they're under public pressure to do something to you (as is the case here), they have something in their pockets with which to charge you.

        Quite right. I don't expect this to be a regularly enforced rule. I believe it's more like getting Al Capone for Tax Evasion.

        • Re:What the.... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Obfuscant (592200) on Monday July 07, 2008 @05:09PM (#24089565)
          Quite right. I don't expect this to be a regularly enforced rule.

          Unfortunately, it sets a precedent, and every precedent shows up somewhere else, always more stringently enforced.

          US law used to say that using any name one chooses was not illegal as long as it was not for the purposes of fraud.

          E.g, if I called myself Tom Cruise and never made any attempt at connecting myself with THE Tom Cruise of acting semi-fame, I'm fine. "Are you THE..." "No I am not." End of problem.

          If I went online as "Tom Cruise" and tried selling "Katie's used panties" for $100 each, well, that's fraud, and that makes the use of the name illegal.

          The question here is if MySpace would have provided their service to this woman under her "real" name, or did they only do so because of the name she used. If they would have provided the service under any name she used, then there is no fraud. She got nothing she would not have gotten otherwise.

          This charge is chilling. I have no doubt nobody expects my birth certificate to contain the words "Obfuscant", and "oahazmatt" doesn't contain that as his legal name, either, I expect.

          It actually sets two bad precedents. One is that using a fake name is a felony. The other is that websites can determine when someone is committing a felony, instead of the legislature.

        • Re:What the.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann@slashdot.gmail@com> on Monday July 07, 2008 @05:14PM (#24089647) Homepage Journal

          Quite right. I don't expect this to be a regularly enforced rule. I believe it's more like getting Al Capone for Tax Evasion.

          The problem is that in the wrong hands, this law would make an Al Capone out of EVERYONE. If they need to address a specific case, then make the law for that specific case!

      • Re:What the.... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mweather (1089505) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:25PM (#24088763)
        That's what most laws are for: fucking with undesirables.
      • Re:What the.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Spy Hunter (317220) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:46PM (#24089135) Journal

        They're not interested in enforcing this in general

        Having laws which are only enforced at certain times or against certain people is folly. The authorities love it because it gives them leeway to enforce whatever rules they make up, under penalty of being convicted for a "crime" everybody commits. It's easy to see how this can lead to abuse; for example imagine a racist cop who pulls over only black people for speeding. Making the rules is the job of the legislature, not the police or the judicial branch. Laws must be defined precisely and enforced consistently. If there is a law that sometimes shouldn't be enforced, then it should be changed so as to explicitly exclude those times.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sorak (246725)

        Do the people that make laws have absolutely ANY idea how the internet works and is used?

        Yes, they do. They're not interested in enforcing this in general, but if you pull a stupid, nasty stunt that turns out worse than you'd imagined and they're under public pressure to do something to you (as is the case here), they have something in their pockets with which to charge you.

        Most laws are not written with the intent to oppress others. Many of the worst ones in non-totalitarian states are written like this one: an overly broad law that can be used to arrest nearly anybody, and gives a well-meaning authority figure an unprecedented amount of power.

        If we allow someone to have this power now, then we cannot take it back, if and when it becomes abused. (See the patriot act for an example)

    • Re:What the.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DigitAl56K (805623) * on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:15PM (#24088553)

      Agree.

      Does MySpace actually take any action to verify any of the personal details entered during account creation? Most sites required account activation based upon your e-mail address, and that is all. They send an activation e-mail to verify an identity. I personally have never received snail mail or even a phone call from MySpace asking me to prove any of the identity information that I entered was accurate. If MySpace takes absolutely no action whatsoever to verify a persons actual identity for their hundreds of thousands (millions?) of users then this seems like extraordinarily selective enforcement of the TOS.

      MySpace TOS also states:

      This Agreement is accepted upon your use of the MySpace Website

      Seemingly they want to hold you to an agreement that you didn't even necessarily agree to. If your server keeps sending me pages upon request I'd like to know how that is not authorized use? You can revoke that authorization only if I actually agree to your TOS, IMO.

      BTW, does using a proxy or anonymizer count as impersonating another person or using a false identity? Is it a felony? What if a friend is logged into MySpace and I browse the site using their computer? Is that a felony? Is it two separate felonies because one of us broke the TOS by letting someone else use their account and the other used an account that wasn't theirs to browse a few pages? What if I type a funny message on their messenger? What if I enter accurate account information but mistype my address or phone number? That's also in breach of the TOS. Is that a felony?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This scared me at first that it was just another case of "Sheriff Joe Bob" not understanding what these internets are all about but, its not as bad as it sounds.

      The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is not as overbroad as the poster makes it out to be. As others have mentioned, this is the case where a mother created a fake online profile with the specific intent of harassing a girl (that ended up committing suicide). I haven't seen the court papers but she's most likely charged under the law NOT JUST for merel

      • Re:What the.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:40PM (#24089025)

        The point though is that nowhere was there anything remotely resembling "unauthorized access of a computer". This was nothing but regular bullying done over the internet.

        The equivalent of this is the popular girls in high school convincing the local star to be friendly with the ugly girl, only to humiliate her in the most public fashion possible. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is not the proper way to deal with this.

    • by Cathoderoytube (1088737) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:32PM (#24088869)
      Oh no the jig is up! My real name isn't Cathoderoytube! My real name isn't even Roy! I don't know how to fix tvs! For the love of god don't throw me in jail!
    • Slow Down, Cowboy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fm6 (162816) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:59PM (#24089385) Homepage Journal

      Do the people that make laws have absolutely ANY idea how the internet works and is used?

      First of all, nobody's making a law here. This is a grand jury (12 ordinary people) getting persuaded to indict Drew based on a weird legal theory that probably won't stand up in court.

      So if this indictment isn't going anywhere, why issue it? Because millions of people are pissed off about the suicide of Megan Meier [wikipedia.org], which occurred after she was humiliated via that bogus MySpace account. Of course, using an online account to humiliate somebody isn't illegal (if it were, we'd all be accessing Slashdot from jail!), so all this outrage had nowhere to go — until a creative Federal prosecutor came up with this ToS theory. Which, as I said, will probably go nowhere. Lawyers come up with strange legal theories. Judges shoot them down. Happens every day. That's why we have judges.

      People need to dial back the outrage. Drew was allegedly pissed at Meier over some stupid teenage thing that happened between Meier and Drew's daughter. Then millions of people got pissed at Drew and demand that she be thrown in jail, never mind what the law says. Now you're pissed at some half-assed legal maneuver whose only really purpose is to appease all the people who are pissed at Drew. Too much pissedness, not enough thinking. Chill out, America!

    • This is basic game theory, folks. As long as most people conceal their behavior it is viable for many people, if not most, to decry things that they do themselves in private. This rewards dishonesty.
      The more of you hide behind anonymity, the more denial will take place.
      The more denial there is, the fewer decisions will be made rationally.
      The less rational decisionmaking is, the worse our laws will be.
      The more of you hide behind anonymity, the easier it is for the things you value to stay illegal or othe
      • by EdIII (1114411) * on Monday July 07, 2008 @07:03PM (#24091331)

        I have no problem with you thinking that way, and what you say has a certain logic to it.

        However, I am entitled to be anonymous. Yes, that's right. ENTITLED.

        This country was founded upon belief that one person should not have the right to "screw" with another person. Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness. Well that includes absolute privacy and anonymity. You DO NOT have the right to come on my property, or stop me while traversing public property, and demand my identification. I am entitled, as an American, to say, "fuck you and the horse you rode in on".

        Police officers are violating my constitutional rights when they demand my identification without adequate proof of suspicion that I have committed a crime. I have refused several times to the point of almost being put in handcuffs.

        Let me qualify that a little. If I was driving a vehicle, the police officer DOES NOT have a right to demand my identification. However, he does have a DUTY to make sure that I am authorized by the state to operate a motor vehicle on the public roads. In the course of fulfilling his duties, he would verify my identity. I don't have a problem with that. Driving is not a right, it is a privilege. I DO have a problem when I am a passenger in the back seat and the officer asks me for my "drivers license".

        So although you may see anonymity as a challenge, I see it as an absolute that must be protected at all costs. The country would be far less free with anonymity being outlawed.

        That being said, I also believe that I have a right to demand the identity of any entity that wishes to deal with me. "Private Number" on the Caller ID? Leave a message. Don't want to give me your real name when I am doing business with you? Fine, we won't do business.

        MySpace can demand the identity of a person wishing to use their services, but it is still not a crime to obfuscate that information.

        Since there are plenty of people, and you certainly seem to be one of them (no disrespect intended), that are demanding that everybody "grow a pair" and reveal their identities there SHOULD be JUST AS MANY PEOPLE DEMANDING THAT THE INFORMATION BE PROTECTED.

        However, that is not true is it? There is so much abuse, so my identity fraud and theft, so much distrust on the behalf of citizens in regard to their own government and private dealings with other corporations.

        "Lying" about your information on applications for websites is just the tip of the iceberg. I not ONLY lie to ./ and other websites, but I lie to the GOVERNMENT. It is a defense mechanism. It only costs a little money and some time for somebody to obtain information about me from the government that is supposed to be protected.

        There is a conflict of interest when the government makes money from the sale of your information while at the same time being charged with protecting it. That goes for private corporations as well. There is real danger to my person, my family, and my property by "growing a pair" and "standing up in public".

        The decent thing to do is to be honest about who you are when you deal with people personally. However, while I am writing this post to you, millions or hundreds of millions of other people could also read it. I just can't simply say, "Yeah Rustin, that new $15,000 speaker system is AWESOME. I got one for myself in my home theater room" while at the same time having accurate first, last, address, phone, etc. information available in my profile.

        There are too many predators out there and anonymity, either forcefully obtained or through "artifacts" of the Internet, is a required survival tool.

        So if you really want to put your money where your mouth is, then post ALL of your contact information in your Journal. I want:

        First, Middle, Last Name

        Home Address

        Work Address

        All Phone Numbers

        SOS#

        Emergency Contact Information

        Height, Weight, Eye Color, Hair Color, etc.

        Children's information, information on your spouse, etc.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Monday July 07, 2008 @03:58PM (#24088223) Homepage

    Drive a girl to commit suicide, and get prosecuted for loggin in under a fake name...

    I don't know whats worse, the ACTUAL crime that isn't criminal, or the prosecution under criminal statutes for something which shouldn't be considered a crime?

    • by I confirm I'm not a (720413) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:10PM (#24088447) Journal

      I'm not as familiar with US law as I am with UK and NZ law (and IANAL, yada yada) but isn't this how prosecutions in the US usually work? She's being charged with anything and everything (three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress, and one count of criminal conspiracy [wikipedia.org]) in the hope that at least one charge will stick. To me at least, Criminal Conspiracy seems fair enough and I'd imagine that that would be the charge that stuck. Have faith in the defense, the jury and the judge...

      • by Hatta (162192) on Monday July 07, 2008 @05:31PM (#24089925) Journal

        How it usually works is that they'll charge you with everything possible in the hopes that you'd rather plead guilty and get 10 years instead of taking a chance with a trial and getting 30 years. Whether you're innocent or not doesn't matter. What this really amounts to is punishing you for exercising your constitutionally guaranteed right to a trial. Plea bargaining is damned abusive, and should not be allowed.

    • by Rich0 (548339) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:10PM (#24088451) Homepage

      Our society has gotten lazy with law enforcement. Proving that somebody commented THE crime is hard, and making all really bad behavior is hard. So, we just make it a crime to do silly normal things and selectively enforce the laws. EVERYBODY in America is a criminal - do you think you go through a single day without violating SOMETHING in the Code of Federal Regulations, or any aw passed by any legislature in the last 200 years that hasn't been repealed, or anything contrary to common law? Plus, those laws make a convenient excuse for performing searches/etc (your honor, the grass looked taller than 2.3 inches so I knocked on the front door, and in plain sight it looked like there might have been an illegally-copied CD sitting on the table, and when I walked in to grab it I noticed some cigarette packages on the table in the other room so I went over to check their seals and then I noticed the lamp that could also be used to grow weed and so I called in SWAT to bust open every wall in the place...).

      The job of the cops is to figure out who the bad guy is, and the job of the prosecutor is to figure out something in those aforementioned library-filling tomes to pin them with. Gotta love it!

    • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:17PM (#24088603)

      Drive a girl to commit suicide, and get prosecuted for loggin in under a fake name...

      Yeah, what's the deal with that? That's like "Orchestrate the St. Valentine's Massacre, and get prosecuted for tax evasion." Just so friggin' wrong....

      Sincerely,
      A. Capone

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tenton (181778)

        Dear Mr. Capone,

        You did evade taxes, which was still illegal.

        Love,
        The IRS

  • Circumstances? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CXI (46706) on Monday July 07, 2008 @03:59PM (#24088237) Homepage
    Is this the same Lori Drew that drove a teenager to suicide by pretending to be a teen aged boy that intentionally was scorning the teen girl? So there might be a little more to this story...
  • by Stanistani (808333) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:02PM (#24088307) Homepage Journal

    This is, of course, the Lori Drew who worked hard online to bully and demoralize a teenage girl to the point where she committed suicide.

    The question is, since no laws exist which would allow her successful prosecution for her actual offense, why prosecute her for a violation of a site's TOS, which would establish a dangerous precedent for many users who simply don't want a site to have their private information?

    This case belongs in civil court, not criminal. Let the dead girl's parents sue Lori Drew, prove their case, if possible, and collect monetary damages.

    • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:15PM (#24088565)
      This case belongs in civil court, not criminal. Let the dead girl's parents sue Lori Drew, prove their case, if possible, and collect monetary damages.

      What monetary damages? Millions from a woman who probably has more debt than assets? While I agree the setting of precedent is kinda scary, I think the woman should be punished as a criminal in every way possible to punish her for directly driving a girl to suicide. Then again, I think what she did should be criminal - psychological harassment - but, I don't write the laws...
      • And that is why... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by HappyEngineer (888000) on Monday July 07, 2008 @05:04PM (#24089497) Homepage

        While I agree the setting of precedent is kinda scary, I think the woman should be punished as a criminal in every way possible to punish her for directly driving a girl to suicide.

        And that is why we have so many bad laws. You're essentially saying "I want blood and I don't care what the wider effect on society is."

        Sometimes the first person to commit a particular type of crime will simply need to be left unpunished. The proper thing to do is to pass a new law that specifically targets the bad behavior without catching normal behavior in a dragnet.

        Allowing prosecutors to stretch an existing law so that it can target largely harmless behavior is not a good idea.

        If you like that sort of behavior then why not just pass a law that says "prosecutors are allowed to punish anyone with 5 years imprisonment for any reason" and then allow them to selectively punish people whenever they do something nasty that isn't illegal. What could possibly go wrong?

  • by ohcrapitssteve (1185821) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:03PM (#24088319) Homepage
    ...but the subject fails to mention, for whatever it's worth, that this is the same Lori Drew that's been all over the news for helping her daughter create a fake Myspace to lead a neighborhood 13 year old girl into thinking a boy liked her. Drew and her same-aged daughter (and apparently one other teen) perpetrated this farce and then pulled the rug out, making this teen girl think the boy no longer liked her. The girl subsequently committed suicide.

    It seems that because of that, IMO, the feds are out to nail her on whatever they can, not because of a site's terms of use policy. Though this would set a terrifying precedent.
  • oh no not again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gothzilla (676407) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:14PM (#24088535)

    Slashdot needs to change it's slogan from "News for nerds" to "Editorials for nerds."

    This type of legal action is nothing new and has been happening for decades and there's nothing wrong with it. If you commit a heinous crime, they will charge you with every single criminal act they can find no matter how small.
    Slashdot would love for you to believe that this is something new that's never been done before that will have incredibly powerful effects in the future when the opposite is true. It's been happening for a very long time.

    I should keep count of how many "articles" here aren't actually news but heavily biased editorials designed to feed the paranoid.

  • Not that bad... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lixee (863589) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:18PM (#24088611)
    In Morocco, a 26 years old was kidnapped, tortured and sentenced to three years in prison for creating a Facebook profile with the name of a prince (the king's brother). The case [wikipedia.org] showed that there have been little change in the country (and its institutions) since the end of Hassan II's tyrannical regime.
  • by gorehog (534288) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:19PM (#24088629)

    I should post this as AC...

    Lori Drew is reprehensible. But we HAVE laws for harassment and disorderly conduct and libel. These can all be applied. There are even laws regarding prank phone calls (which might be best used as reference here). We DO NOT need new precedents that reduce the ability of the individual to access information anonymously.

    See...we have the first amendment that guarantees the freedom of speech, press, and religion. What we don't have is a guarantee of unfettered access to information. Using fake accounts for access to some websites is de riguer on the internet. Everyone does it for a WIDE variety of reasons (dont want to get caught fucking someone else, dont want to get caught looking up c4 recipies, dont want to get spam).

    Damn...imagine the implications for 10minutemail.com

  • Under common law (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bloobloo (957543) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:50PM (#24089201) Homepage

    You may use any name you wish unless you intend to commit fraud. From wikipedia:

            * One may be employed, do business, and enter into other contracts, and sue and be sued under any name they choose at will (Lindon v. First National Bank 10 F. 894, Coppage v. Kansas 236 U.S. 1, In re McUlta 189 F. 250).

            * Such a change carries the exact same legal weight as a court decreed name change as long as it is not done with fraudulent intent (In re McUlta 189 F. 250, Christianson v. King County 196 F. 791, United States v. McKay 2 F.2d 257).

            * This at will right is guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, specifically the Fourteenth Amendment (Jech v. Burch 466 F.Supp. 714).

  • wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld&gmail,com> on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:57PM (#24089351) Homepage
    All these posts denigrating the law and the justice system, based on something as inherently unreliable as a slashdot article summary. First of all, if anyone here thinks that under this law you could be indicted for just creating a pseudonym on an online forum, you really need to learn critical thinking skills. Hell, anonymity is constitutionally protected in many circumstances.

    I've read the indictment, and that's not what it says. The relevant federal law requires that the unauthorized access to be done in furtherance of some tortious or criminal act. To extort money, to cause physical injury, to get government secrets, to damage the computer, etc. In this case, the defendant gained unauthorized access to myspace to intentionally inflict emotional harm on this girl. Now whether that qualifies as "physical injury," I don't know; they might have to show that the defendant intended the girl to physically hurt herself or sustain injury as a result of the abuse. But even if it gets thrown out, it is still close enough to justify bringing the charge in the first place. No, it is not a symbol of the horrible legal oppression everyone suffers here. I am not especially pro-prosecutory; in fact, I almost joined the public defender's office after law school, and I am very skeptical of prosecutors in general. But I'm also sick of the ridiculous overreaction everyone here has everytime anyone anywhere is charged with a crime.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:59PM (#24089377) Homepage Journal

    Were they using a pseudonym or trying to impersonate someone else?

    Its perfectly legal to have a pseudonym in the real world, so how the hell can it be illegal in the cyber one?

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