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The Courts Your Rights Online

Lori Drew Cyberbullying Case Dismissed 408

Posted by timothy
from the neither-vindication-nor-absolution dept.
Trepidity writes "About seven weeks after the judge tentatively overturned Lori Drew's guilty verdict for 'cyberbullying' following her online harassment of a teenager that was linked to the teenager's suicide, the case was finally officially dismissed. In a 32-page opinion (PDF), the court avoided a minefield of possible follow-on effects that civil-liberties groups had warned of by holding that merely violating a website's Terms of Service cannot constitute 'unauthorized access' for the purposes of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 U.S.C. 1030)."
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Lori Drew Cyberbullying Case Dismissed

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  • by reporter (666905) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @07:18AM (#29250719) Homepage
    Though we may justifiably consider Lori Drew to be despicable, she did not violate any federal statute. The government's case was driven by public opinion, not the facts. In this case, public opinion is just a synonym for "tyranny of the masses".

    The government chose to use the legal system to make her life a living hell. The government has infinitely deep pockets to fund a lawsuit against a private citizen, but the citizen does not have such pockets. Fighting the government in the courts could drive a private citizen into bankruptcy.

    The right thing for Drew to do in this case is to sue the government and, specifically, the lead prosecuting attorney. Drew should sue them for mental distress and seek a multi-million dollar award.

    • by boliboboli (1447659) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @07:26AM (#29250753)
      She can sue the gov't... [answers.com] if she get's permission from congress. For some reason, I don't think anyone will be very compassionate about her "mental distress" considering the reason she was put through all of this was by causing "mental distress" of another and subsequent suicide of that individual...
      • by TheLink (130905)
        Maybe she should have been prosecuted for child abuse?

        After all don't they lock up guys who try dubious stuff with FBI agents pretending to be 14 year olds?

        BTW I wonder if those guys could get away with it if treated their correspondents as FBI agents pretending to be 14 year olds ;).
    • by Norsefire (1494323) * on Sunday August 30, 2009 @07:27AM (#29250757) Journal

      Drew should sue them for mental distress and seek a multi-million dollar award.

      Mental distress you say? Like the kind Meier was under? In that case, surely the prosecutor should be tried by a federal court. It would only be fair.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 30, 2009 @07:31AM (#29250771)

      The right thing for Drew to do in this case is to sue the government and, specifically, the lead prosecuting attorney. Drew should sue them for mental distress and seek a multi-million dollar award.

      This is true. I want the USA to be seen as the country which lets a murderer(*) go free then allows her to sue the government and win millions.

      (*) The US has this quasi-religious fallacy that the mind is somehow less a biological entity than the body, so while we are limited by physical disability/limitation/programming, mental disability/limitation/programming somehow doesn't exist because it runs contrary to the philosophy about man running as a free rational entity. On the contrary, the mind is just another biological function, and driving someone to suicide (i.e. by manipulating their mind until they think of death as the only way out) is as much murdering them as pushing them onto a sword.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        re: On the contrary, the mind is just another biological function, and driving someone to suicide (i.e. by manipulating their mind until they think of death as the only way out) is as much murdering them as pushing them onto a sword.

        Are you out of your mind? ;-) This implies that if an unstable individual listens to music that drives him/her to suicide, then the person(s) that performed and/or wrote the music is guilty of murder.

        • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @08:32AM (#29251051) Journal

          This implies that if an unstable individual listens to music that drives him/her to suicide, then the person(s) that performed and/or wrote the music is guilty of murder.

          Are the performers and writers playing this music intentionally over a period of time in such a way ostensibly as to harass this individual? Is it planned meticulously to cause distress? As interrogators might play loud music for hours every day to break your "unstable" mind while they also aim bright lights at you and threaten you or your family, say? If so, yes, the involved performers/writers are murderers.

          If you mean that just listening to this song (e.g. once on the radio) drove the individual to killing himself, then you'll need to provide some evidence that the person's decision to commit suicide came about in a significant way from listening to the song. Do you have one example of this, anywhere? There are many examples in psych and popular literature of people killing themselves after being exposed to a concerted bullying campaign, you see, but I'm yet to find anyone written up who had no intention of suicide before listening to a song, but killed himself right after.

          And no points for the Gloomy Sunday urban legend, sorry.

        • by KillerBob (217953)

          Are you out of your mind? ;-) This implies that if an unstable individual listens to music that drives him/her to suicide, then the person(s) that performed and/or wrote the music is guilty of murder.

          I suspect the GP would draw a distinction between music driving somebody to suicide and making a fraudulent online identity to drive somebody to suicide. If for no other reason, then on grounds of intent. Music isn't generally written with the expressed purpose of tormenting somebody to the point that they end

        • by TRRosen (720617)

          Thats absolutely true if the musician intended to cause mental anguish to that specific person.

        • by Pecisk (688001) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @09:51AM (#29251497)

          Nope, it is right. There is special note however - indent is important. Musician who writes a song about guy who is fed up with life and want peace and happiness isn't targeting someone to make sucide, he just expreses the way he feels sometime (or maybe all the time). If someone it gives last punch to do what they intended to do - well, it's harsh, but more or less it's still their decision to listen to this music.

          These adults aim was to harm emotionally girl as much as possible. They had a reason, indent and they did it without any remorse. It could get clasified in some countries as 'driving someone to sucide' and is criminal case. Strangely, US dismiss such responsibility about humans.

      • by Seumas (6865) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @08:24AM (#29251013)

        People who go around saying that a twelve year old girl should just "toughen up" really piss me off. Even if her attackers and harassers were her own age, it could be brutal and destructive, but in this case the harassers included a group of adults conspiring against her to cause her harm. That has to count for something. It's bullshit to say that a child should just "toughen up" against the orchestrated attacks and manipulations of full grown fucking adults.

        If you're a balanced normal adult, you should be able to take a lot of crap and let it roll off your back. But there would certainly be legal consequences if, say, your spouse had serious mental and emotional problems that they were being treat\ed for and you went out of your way to orchestrate their mental torture and abuse and took advantage of their unbalanced state (hell, in many places, you can't take advantage of someone simply in a drunk state and there are protections for consumers who make large purchases and think otherwise within 72 hours!).

        And yet... when it comes to a twelve year old girl... she's somehow supposed to be a solid fucking stoic rock. Not only against other children, but fucking adults three or four times her age. Lori Drew reminds me of that movie where the guys pretend to like that girl, but really it's all a game they're playing to make her feel loved and wanted and then they all drop her like a rock on the same day to see if they can collectively drive her to suicide. Except the guy who did that here wasn't a 17 year old boy but a 30-something year old woman and her family.

        I'm not saying that we should put in peril every American's rights here just to prosecute this one insignificant twat. I guess considering what the prosecutors were trying her on, the judge did the only right thing that could be done. But that doesn't make the outcome any more pleasant. Justice for all had to trump over justice for one dead kid. And even though it was probably right... it still fucking sucks.

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @08:40AM (#29251083) Journal

          No, she's not meant to be solid as a rock, she's meant to have an emotional support system in place, in the form of her parents, her peers, and her teachers (but most especially her parents). If her parents were not giving her this kind of emotional support then I would be perfectly happy for that to be classed as criminal negligence or wilful neglect, but in the media-powered US judicial system you can't go after the parents. If a child is so emotionally fragile that she can be talked into suicide by someone she has never met face to face, her parents are failing in their duty. If a twelve-year-old is allowed to develop close relationships with people she know knows online without being educated that people online often lie or misrepresent themselves, then her parents are failing in their responsibility.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Runaway1956 (1322357)

            sudo mod theraven64 up.

            Having lived through an abused childhood, I have near zero sympathy for kids who are such losers that they can't face life's challenges. Not quite zero, but near it. This girl who committed suicide because some boy she had never met apparently turned on her isn't very far up the food chain from the idiots who choose to "go out in a blaze of glory" while shooting up their school. She was weak and unstable, and she chose to suicide. Her lack of a support group contributed, yes, but

            • by ZosX (517789)

              I thought my opinion would be the minority, but it seems well supported here. I'm sorry, but life can be tough and challenging on many levels and if you cannot adapt even at age 12 and decide to off yourself, then I say its called thinning the herd. Sure the story is tragic, but there is a lot of tragedy in life. Lori Drew may be a monster, but she did not kill anyone, or otherwise she would be charged with murder. When I was a child and then later, a teenager, I was harassed on a repeated basis. Obviously

            • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @10:10AM (#29251611) Journal

              Having lived through an abused childhood, I have near zero sympathy for kids who are such losers that they can't face life's challenges.

              I say that people are born with and develop (mostly in very early life) different physical and mental abilities for handling tough circumstances. If you believe that everyone has the potential to act as you did in response to your abuse, you have a fundamental misunderstanding of biology and psychology, and are taking refuge in a non-scientific philosophy. What is more, no two difficult situations are the same, with details being the difference between a seemingly insurmountable and a "merely" challenging situation.

              I'm sorry you were abused. Because you chose to reveal this, I ask you please not to turn your unresolved anger into thinly veiled justification for the abuse of others.

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        for the last time, in the USofA, if it is not hate speech, not threatening, maybe rude, derogatory, it is called freedom of speech. We understand that it gets abused sometimes, but your choice is either: be able to say what you want (aka comments -> slashdot), or have them moderated by the government. I don't know about you, but I'd rather let a few retarded idiots going "keep your government hands off my medicare" than stifle all speech altogether.

        • by TRRosen (720617)

          You half right dummy. Your free to say anything you want. Even if it is threatening or hate speech they can't stop you. they can punish you afterwards for the content of hate speech if directed towards someone or if it is viewed as a threat. But free speech does not absolve you of the responsibility for the end result of anything you say. Speech is an action and actions have consequences. If what you say causes death or injury your still responsible.
          Freedom of speech doesn't give you the right to harass som

    • by Seumas (6865) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @08:15AM (#29250967)

      The government chose to use the legal system to make her life a living hell.

      The right thing for Drew to do in this case is to sue the government and, specifically, the lead prosecuting attorney. Drew should sue them for mental distress and seek a multi-million dollar award.

      Oh, poor, poor lady. Maybe she should hang herself. After all, she's shown *so* much remorse (*eyeroll*) for her actions.

      If there was ever a case of harassment that justified some sort of prosecution, it's this one. For fuck's sake, the woman is -- at the very least -- a sexual predator. Posing as an underage boy to have sexual conversations with a twelve year old girl? What the fuck?! Not to mention adding on the intent to cause serious detriment by the machinations of her contrived plot to the girl.

      She deserves everything she gets coming to her in a negative fashion. She and her family haven't even shown the slightest bit of remorse over what they did. Fuck them.

      The only distressing thing here is that in order for her to get what she deserves, the liberties of everybody in this country have to be put in jeopardy. So to avoid setting such precedents, we have to smile and nod and say "sure, she clearly contributed to this girl killing herself, but she gets to continue being a free useless member of society pursuing her own happiness, because prosecutors couldn't come up with something more applicable than TOS violations.

      All outcomes in this are miserable, in some way. Even the right one, which it seems won-out.

      • by iamhassi (659463) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @11:01AM (#29251943) Journal
        "For fuck's sake, the woman is -- at the very least -- a sexual predator. Posing as an underage boy to have sexual conversations with a twelve year old girl? What the fuck?! Not to mention adding on the intent to cause serious detriment by the machinations of her contrived plot to the girl."

        Don't forget this was a neighbor girl, a girl they had gone on vacation with [appletreeblog.com], a girl in her daughter's class that her daughter didn't like. W...T...F. Daughter comes home crying saying "Mommy Mommy I don't like this girl!" and mommy said "Oh? Well I'll get her!" and 47-yr old mommy created a fake online teen boy profile for the sole purpose of harassment, even going to far as to having sexual conversations with the 14 yr old [pysih.com]. If that's not the most fucked up thing I've ever heard.

        If Lori was a man and if Megan had lived Lori would be jail for being a sexual predator.
      • by sjames (1099) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @01:49PM (#29253439) Homepage

        It's the stupid prosecutor's fault, there were plenty of more viable angles that wouldn't endanger everyone's rights, they just wanted to use this one to fluff up their careers. For example, suicide is a crime (odd but true) and she contributed to a minor's decision to commit that crime. Therefor she should be tried for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. She deliberately inflicted an emotional damage on a child, so assault. She is a mother who has demonstrated that she doesn't have sufficient emotional maturity to behave responsibly. Perhaps social services should look in to that.

        But NO, the prosecutors were determined to grab some headlines and make it a "cybercrime" for their own benefit and so she goes free.

    • by jbolden (176878) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @08:17AM (#29250979) Homepage

      The public was of the opinion that Drew organized a conspiracy to commit petty fraud that indirectly resulted in a death (i.e. manslaughter). Organizing a conspiracy to commit a felony is a crime.

      I agree she didn't violate federal law. Missouri should have handled this.

    • by omb (759389)
      I absolutely agree, prosecutors MUST be held to account, __but__ also,

      This starts a precedent to limit mis-use of the Miss-Use Act.
    • by SetupWeasel (54062) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @09:15AM (#29251287) Homepage

      The right thing for Drew to do is shut the fuck up, be grateful for a loophole in the law, change her name, and move far away. If I were that girl's parent, I would spend the rest of my life looking for revenge.

    • by TRRosen (720617)

      COOL - its not illegal to use a stolen account and password to access a computer system. Remember that when I'm using your account and password to access all your banking info.

      She should sue that why she'll have some more money to pay the settlement to the family of the girl she MURDERED.

    • I suppose any time that public opinion agrees with government action (i.e. any time that the government is acting democratically) it's a tyranny of the masses. That really can't be helped, there will always be a small minority that doesn't agree with the rest of society. As long as it's not the same group of people who are the minority every time, it's really not a problem.

      Also, it's up to the judicial system to decide whether a federal/state/local statute has been violated, not you. That's what court cases

  • by Smidge207 (1278042) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @07:25AM (#29250743) Journal

    Well, no; there is no such thing as "simply speech." There are plenty of things that you can write on the internet or issue from your mouth that should rightfully result in you being imprisoned. Such as shouting fire in a crowded theatre.

    Or:
    1. purposefully playing with the emotions of one specific child (not general rants on the internet)
    2. a child she knows to have psychologically problems
    3. over an extended period of time
    4. directly suggesting suicide after manipulating, setting up, and torturing this child

    That's not "simply speech". not REMOTELY "simply speech". This is nothing like me calling Rob Malda a douchebag or advocating for greater acceptance of necrophilia or defending the Baptist church or anything else that someone might object to but is obviously free speech. there are lots of free speech that are odious but not criminal.

    This does not consider how complicated the interplay between your rights and your responsibilities are in this world. No, you do not get automatic protection from the consequences of EVERYTHING you can possibly say

    • One aspect I consider important in defending limits on speech is that your right to free speech does not include the right to make me listen. In this case, that line was not crossed. She did not force the other party to pay attention in any way; it would have been a single click to reject all messages from her.

      That said, this is not the issue here. The issue is that the government chose to attempt to apply a clearly-irrelevant law on the basis that she is a bad person and deserved punishing for someth

      • by jbolden (176878)

        I think you are exaggerating. Lynching (including non racial) was an American tradition for two centuries until it got exclusively tied with the Klan and the Klan was discredited. Not a good feature but we were still a free society.

    • That's not "simply speech". not REMOTELY "simply speech".

      I agree with you for the most part. There are lines that free speech does not get to cross, but this case was a little different. The prosecutors were bending the law to make it fit. As much I despise any adult who would play mind games with a child, that doesn't make it okay to reinterpret some law to make the case.

      In Mississippi a while back a lady was accused of selling one of her children. The case got a lot of attention because it turned

      • But that doesn't mean we get to make up the law to fit the situation.

        Making up a law to fit this situation is fine. That's exactly how a lot of laws are made - see something that people feel should be illegal, make a law that codifies this. What you can't do is pass laws that make things illegal retroactively or, as in this case, try her with something largely unrelated just because we agree that she's a bad person.

      • by iamhassi (659463)
        "In Mississippi a while back a lady was accused of selling one of her children. The case got a lot of attention because it turned out selling children was not technically illegal in MS."

        Yeah don't remind me, I had the other 3 and I missed that last one so I don't have the whole set and they're worthless now!
    • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @09:43AM (#29251449) Homepage Journal

      "This is nothing like me calling Rob Malda a douchebag "

      And, you're a fucking psychologist, right? You know for certain that Rob Malda is rock stable, that he has never once considered suicide, right? That one more fucking douchebag won't push him over the edge with one more idiot insult? And, because you are a professional psychologist, your insult doesn't imply the same responsibility as some redneck bitch in Missouri improperly getting involved in her daughter's love life - or the life of her daughter's peers.

      Get a grip on reality. If Malda suicides after you call him a douchebag, you are just about as responsible as the redneck bitch in Missouri.

      We should all be grateful that this particular case has been thrown out. Very few of us on slashdot use our proper names - obviously putting us into the same class of predator as Lori Drew - at least in the mind of an overzealous prosecutor who doesn't like what we might have to say.

      Once again, I remind people that the proper course of action in this case would have been CIVIL, not criminal. We don't need more criminal law on the books, there is already enough to make criminals of all of us. We especially don't need criminal law that threatens free speech.

      • by Dragonslicer (991472) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @12:02PM (#29252459)

        You know for certain that Rob Malda is rock stable, that he has never once considered suicide, right? That one more fucking douchebag won't push him over the edge with one more idiot insult? And, because you are a professional psychologist, your insult doesn't imply the same responsibility as some redneck bitch in Missouri improperly getting involved in her daughter's love life - or the life of her daughter's peers.

        If you can't tell the difference between a one-sentence insult about a person that you don't personally know and a prolonged, methodical plan to inflict mental damage on a 12-year-old girl that you know well enough to be aware of her existing psychological problems, then you have no credibility in this discussion.

    • by elucido (870205) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @12:10PM (#29252527)

      1." purposefully playing with the emotions of one specific child (not general rants on the internet)"

      I disagree with this. Emotions cannot be measured or quantified. How do you measure emotional damages to another person? How do we even know other people have emotions, do we have some way to scan their brain to know what they are feeling? That idea is completely stupid from a legal point of view, but from a moral point of view I can see why its wrong to bully children.

      2. "a child she knows to have psychologically problems"

      How do you know this?

      3. "over an extended period of time"

      There are already laws to address this. It's called harassment.

      4. "directly suggesting suicide after manipulating, setting up, and torturing this child"

      While I believe it's sad that a child had to die, the only one to blame for a suicide is the individual who committed it. You can never blame anyone else for how you feel or what you do in response. You have to accept and own your own emotions. In this case I have sympathy because it's a child involved, but if it were an adult I would not have sympathy about this.

      5. "This does not consider how complicated the interplay between your rights and your responsibilities are in this world. No, you do not get automatic protection from the consequences of EVERYTHING you can possibly say."

      Nobody has a responsibility to be nice to you. People can say whatever they want. If you try and censor what people can say you only make the matter worse.
      Let people express themselves in text on the internet rather than violently.

      Free speech is too important to throw it away over feelings being hurt. Free speech isn't about feelings, emotions, or psychology. It serves a vital practical purpose.

      If someone harasses you then you can charge them with harassment, there are laws in place already. If someone stalks you then get a restraining order.
      But if someone hurts your feelings, learn to own your emotions or stop talking to people who hurt your feelings.

  • by voss (52565) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @07:41AM (#29250809)

    Sue that witch into the ground, take every asset she owns.

    It may not bring megan back but if it discourages some other jerk from doing the same thing it will be worth it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iamhassi (659463)
      she's already lost everything, she lost her printing business and her husband lost his job as a real estate agent.
  • by onyxruby (118189) <.onyxruby. .at. .comcast.net.> on Sunday August 30, 2009 @07:42AM (#29250821)

    This was truly an unfortunate necessity for the best interest of civil liberties. The reasoning that this case was presented would have made criminals of a great many people for things that should not be criminalized. I understand the charges would have essentially criminalized breaking TOS for a web site, something that simply should not be a criminal action. Will used against this evil bitch who does richly deserve prison, it would set a bad legal precedent.

    That being said, I would still like to find a way to charge her with something appropriate, such as a lesser murder charge, as well as holding her civilly responsible (such as how oj still got held civilly) responsible for the murders he committed)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TRRosen (720617)

      She didn't violate the TOS she used a stolen account and password. Just because the person she stole them from was a figment of her imagination doesn't change a thing, She logged in with someone else's password. Thats the definition of unauthorized access.

  • by Constantin (765902) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @07:43AM (#29250823)

    IIRC, Ms. Drew, family, and an employee went to elaborate lengths to ensnare a susceptible and troubled teenager in a web of lies, followed by making very pointed suggestions for the teenager to commit suicide. What legal basis to prosecute her under is one question... but if the allegations are true, there is certainly a moral basis for ostracizing her, which is apparently what happened in her community.

  • Silly question? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darkon (206829) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @07:46AM (#29250839)

    So does that mean that if I break a web site's terms of service then my access is still 'authorized'? Authorized by whom?

    • No, it means that if you break a web site's ToS you're not committing fraud.
    • Re:Silly question? (Score:5, Informative)

      by MathFox (686808) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @08:00AM (#29250903)
      What Judge Wu ruled is that breaking the contract that you have with a website should be seen as a "civil matter", and should not be treated as a crime. (This is for access that the website owner granted you in return for accepting his terms.) When you exceed the granted access and really hack the system, you still risk criminal prosecution.

      P.S. Civil action may cost you tons too, in damages and attorney fees.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shentino (1139071)

      It would only be hacking if she was banned and then evaded.

      If that were the case I'd be more inclined to go after her for unauthorized access.

      • by TRRosen (720617)

        Explain please how using a username and password that aren't yours isn't hacking. Hell thats 90% of all hacking.

        • by MathFox (686808)
          How can using a username and password, given to you by the owner of the system, be hacking?
          Am I hacking when a co-worker allows me to use his account?
          Should violation of "MySpace can change these terms and conditions without giving notice" terms and conditions ever give rise to criminal proscecution?

          Do you want to make all US Citizens Felons?
          • by TRRosen (720617)

            How can using a username and password, given to you by the owner of the system, be hacking?

            if I trick the server to reset the password of an account and send the new password to my email instead of the real users its not Hacking COOL.

            Am I hacking when a co-worker allows me to use his account?

            Um Yes. co-worker has no authority to allow you to use his account. Authorization can only come from the owner of the computer system. Is it trespassing if i trick your landlord into giving me the keys to your apartment. YES.

            Should violation of "MySpace can change these terms and conditions without giving notice" terms and conditions ever give rise to criminal proscecution?

            No and that never was a charge here. it was an element of a charge.

            Do you want to make all US Citizens Felons?

            No but lets face reality and admit we are all criminals.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Shawndeisi (839070)
      You are authorized by the web server which is providing a public facing service. The law for unauthorized acces is intended to cover services which are not public, e.g. I gain access to the shell via an exploit of your web service. If I break your TOS, you're more then welcome to ban me from your public facing service. Simply saying that I'm breaking your TOS while your server happily performs the function that you specifically designed it to do (serve up web pages) and trying to have me prosecuted is lu
    • by TRRosen (720617)

      true (although it was no bearing on this case).
      Its like those cases we've seen of people getting in trouble for taking pictures in a store. It's not trespassing to go into the store. It's not trespassing to take a picture in violation of there policys (a Brick and Mortar TOS sortof). It is trespassing if you stay there after they ask you to leave.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @07:52AM (#29250869) Homepage Journal

    Missouri has made harassing a minor a felony, http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2009_08_16-2009_08_22.shtml#1250896617 [volokh.com]

    So what I figure is, they knew that the current charges would most likely not stick so they crafted a law to handle the situation. The new law is worse that than even the laws they attempted to prosecute Lori Drew under the first time. They are just too open to interpretation.

  • Harrasment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BlueParrot (965239) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @08:08AM (#29250937)

    Can somebody explain precisely why this woman was not prosecuted under charges of harassment, mental abuse or similar ? Did some lawyer screw up, is the prosecution being twats or is the law just so weird that deliberately trying to hurt somebody by lying to them with the specific intention to cause harm is not criminal?

    Don't get me wrong, charging her for violating a ToS was bullshit, but I just don't see why what she did would not be a violation of at least some other law. Libel, slander and bashing ethnic minorities is illegal, so why is deliberately trying to hurt a minor through carefully targeted verbal abuse, lies and harassment not? That it happened over the Internet is surely tangential to the real issue here, which is that a very cruel woman set out to mentally abuse a child.

    • by jbolden (176878)

      I'm not sure how she meets the criteria for harassment. That requires involuntary / forced contact. Meier engaged in the contact voluntarily but under false pretenses. I don't know what mental abuse is i'm not sure any state has a law against it.

      The closest crime I can come up with is manslaughter.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Loadmaster (720754)

        Intentional infliction of emotional distress is an intentional tort.

        Elements:
              1. Defendant acted intentionally or recklessly; and
              2. Defendantâ(TM)s conduct was extreme and outrageous; and
              3. Defendantâ(TM)s act is the cause of the distress; and
              4. Plaintiff suffers severe emotional distress as a result of defendantâ(TM)s conduct.

        No involuntary or forced contact necessary.

    • Re:Harrasment (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lehk228 (705449) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @08:27AM (#29251029) Journal
      because you are making up charges.

      "mental abuse" isn't a charge i have ever heard of someone being prosecuted, it's not harassment because the actions don't fit the charge at all

      as for libel, slander, and bashing ethnic minorities. the first two are not illegal, they are civil torts, and the third is completely legal. Go start your own white power website and see what happens, your neighbors will think less of you, your family will think less of you, but you won't be arrested.
    • by TRRosen (720617)

      Its because 'them there fancy computer dellybobs scare us poor simple prosicuter folks'

  • by Crashspeeder (1468723) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @09:10AM (#29251247)
    I'm of the belief that she knew what she was doing and chose to let this girl die, even goading her on to kill herself. I don't see how this is, in any way, different than doing so in person. She should be held accountable for her actions. This woman is the scum of the earth.

    I've had words with people before but I've never attempted to talk somebody into committing suicide. I also tend not to get into arguments with minors. What in the world could possibly lead somebody to think this ever sounded like a good idea?
    • by cdrguru (88047)

      It is different because there was no physical presence involved. The victim could have turned off the computer but didn't.

      This goes to the basic idea that all "crimes" committed through the Internet cannot be prosecuted. There is only a "virtual" presence involved and we can't have people's "virtual" presence being prosecuted, now can we? Nothing is really criminal on the Internet. From fraud to piracy to theft and vandalism, there is an unlimited justification that none of this is really happening in t

  • by yuna49 (905461) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @10:35AM (#29251755)

    First, Judge Wu's decision has nothing to do with whether Drew's actions constituted "cyberbullying" or whether she deserved to be prosecuted for her ill-treatment of Megan. All of that was decided long ago, first in Missouri, where the AG said Drew had violated no existing statute, nor in the Federal prosecution where the jury refused to treat Drew's actions as felonious.

    What was left to determine was whether Drew's act of creating a fictitious identity at MySpace, in contravention of its Terms of Service, constituted a misdemeanor under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). When Congress passed this law its intent was to criminalize activities like hacking into computers at banks or military contractors. After public outcry at the fact Drew was not convicted of anything for her actions, Justice Department attorneys in California (where the MySpace computers were housed) prosecuted Drew for violating the CFAA.

    Judge Wu's decision is extremely cautious and proscribed in many ways. First, he specifically states that an "intentional" breach of a website's Terms of Service may come under the purview of the CFAA:

    ....this Court concludes that an intentional breach of the [MySpace Terms of Service] can potentially constitute accessing the MySpace computer/server without authorization and/or in excess of authorization under the statute.

    What's really at issue is whether someone can be prosecuted for violating the TOS, or whether MySpace's specific TOS were too vague to provide reasonable grounds for criminal prosecution. "Vagueness" in this case means whether "individuals of 'common intelligence' are on notice that a breach of the terms of service contract can become a crime under the CFAA." His ruling rejects the Justice Department's case on the grounds that the MySpace TOS are simply too vague to provide a basis for prosecution. In particular, he ruled that the TOS were so expansive that a wide variety of behaviors would become criminalized (lying about one's age or weight, for instance):

    In sum, if any conscious breach of a website's terms of service is held to be sufficient by itself to constitute intentionally accessing a computer without authorization or in excess of authorization, the result will be that section 1030(a)(2)(C) becomes a law "that affords too much discretion to the police and too little notice to citizens who wish to use the [Internet]."

    My guess is that attorneys for popular websites, particularly social networking sites, will be revising their TOS to comply with Wu's decision.

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