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May 15, 2008 1:42 PM   Subscribe


 
Hate to be on the bandwagon, but I've got my pitchfork and my gasoline for this one.. Woman seriously strayed off the moral compass of civilization. I don't know what kind of rehab there is for it, maybe apologizing to the family every day...
posted by cavalier at 1:45 PM on May 15, 2008


The New Yorker piece on this was very good.
posted by Miko at 1:48 PM on May 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


cavalier, I think that bandwagon is going to get very full, very quickly.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 1:53 PM on May 15, 2008


I'm not quite sure how you could charge her with 'unauthorized access to a computer' How did she not have authorization?

It seems like a pretty fucked up story, but I'm not sure what actual criminal charge would be appropriate.
posted by delmoi at 1:59 PM on May 15, 2008


So remember kids:

Make a Sockpuppet, Go to Jail
posted by dgaicun at 2:01 PM on May 15, 2008 [15 favorites]


"The Internet is a world unto itself. People must know how far they can go before they must stop. They exploited a young girl's weaknesses," Hernandez said. "Whether the defendant could have foreseen the results, she's responsible for her actions."

"They exploited a young girl's weaknesses"

And it happens every day in meatspace meathead. The internet is no world onto itself, it's part of it.
posted by three blind mice at 2:01 PM on May 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


They actually found charges for her? This is the best thing I've heard all day. All month, even! Thank you thank you thank you for posting this.
posted by giraffe at 2:01 PM on May 15, 2008


That is a strange story (the cnn one, not just the overall story). It makes it seem like she is being charged with violating MySpace TOS.
posted by 8 Bit at 2:01 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


She should be charged, but this charge is weak.
posted by grouse at 2:03 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


They actually found charges for her?

"Drew was charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress on the girl."

They didn't find enough. She should be charged with manslaughter.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:03 PM on May 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Burn her at the stake, like in the olden days with witches, because that is what she is.

Seriously though this charge is weak. Will she do jail time? Or somehow have her life serouisly disrupted/destroyed?
posted by sir_rubixalot at 2:07 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, in as much as her actions were not of the good, I'd rather they not hunt around for something computer-ish in the law. Conspiracy is good enough, we don't need to make extra laws for computer use. Get her in front of the jury and they'll take care of the rest.

Although I'm scratching my head, trying to puzzle out what meatspace law would apply if none of this went over the wires. There's no law against wanton nastiness, non-financial deceit, and emotional manipulation as far as I know.
posted by adipocere at 2:08 PM on May 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


They actually found charges for her? This is the best thing I've heard all day. >

Hooray, they made up some post hoc, dubious, incoherent shit to put an asshole in jail for being an asshole!! I love it when the law just improvises after the fact to punish someone.

And when is someone going to be punished for these sinister Cult of Emo crimes? Good Girls are turning bad and committing suicide. My Chemical Romance must somehow be punished.
posted by dgaicun at 2:10 PM on May 15, 2008 [10 favorites]


The solution is clear: Ban Myspace.
posted by Dr-Baa at 2:10 PM on May 15, 2008 [15 favorites]


They didn't find enough. She should be charged with manslaughter.

Something tells me that would be bad precedent.

People already get witch-hunty enough when someone commits suicide. If it's established that you're guilty of manslaughter for causing the emotional injury that leads to the suicide, there's gonna be a lot of ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-bosses and former friends getting prosecuted.

(On the upside, it'll take some heat off of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Those guys have been bearing the blame for too long.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:13 PM on May 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


The solution is clear: get everyone who uses Myspace to kill themselves.
posted by phaedon at 2:13 PM on May 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


I feel barbaric but I hope she fucking rots in prison.
posted by tristeza at 2:16 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm scratching my head, trying to puzzle out what meatspace law would apply if none of this went over the wires.

I would go with fraud (for pretending to be someone else). I think intentional infliction of emotional distress, which clearly applies, is a reason for a civil suit (a tort), not a criminal violation, right?
posted by msalt at 2:17 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


She should be charged with manslaughter.

As a resident of Los Angeles, I'd like to thank the D.A. for saving some of my tax dollars by charging her with something that might actually have a chance in Hell of getting a conviction. I'm as repulsed by Lori Drew's actions as anyone, but there's no way in Hell that the prosecutor in this case would be able to convince a jury to assign a guilty verdict to a manslaughter charge, and even less chance that any sort of plea bargain would be forthcoming.

It would be interesting to see what this case would eventually brings to the public's table if she was charged with manslaughter, though. I imagine that there have been a number of people who have been bullied, and in much more immediately physical fashions (and thus, more easily proven in court), who have subsequently committed suicide. The floodgates that could open were a manslaughter conviction successfully prosecuted in this case would be fascinating to watch.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 2:17 PM on May 15, 2008


I would go with fraud (for pretending to be someone else).

Fraud usually requires some sort of potential property benefit to the accused.

As a resident of Los Angeles, I'd like to thank the D.A. for saving some of my tax dollars by charging her with something that might actually have a chance in Hell of getting a conviction.

The Los Angeles DA had nothing to do with it. The events unfolded in Missouri. I guess the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney assumed jurisdiction because MySpace has a presence there.
posted by grouse at 2:22 PM on May 15, 2008


The Smoking Gun: Teen witness gave behind-the-scenes account of MySpace suicide case.
"In her interview, which was memorialized in the below report prepared by the Meier investigators, Grills said she felt 'deep remorse' for her role in the hoax. [Ashley] Grills reportedly received immunity in return for her testimony before the federal grand jury..."
posted by ericb at 2:23 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


The solution is clear: Ban Myspace.

I can't favorite that hard enough.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:24 PM on May 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


I guess the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney assumed jurisdiction because MySpace has a presence there.

From the FPP linked article: "MySpace is based in Beverly Hills. The indictment noted that MySpace computer servers are located in Los Angeles County."
posted by ericb at 2:25 PM on May 15, 2008


I don't know what kind of rehab there is for it, maybe apologizing to the family every day...

I wouldn't hold my breath for that, and I don't think the family is either.

I haven't been following it all that closely, but during the last TV interview I saw, the family described how the woman had a very "Jeez, get over it already" attitude about the whole thing.
posted by CKmtl at 2:25 PM on May 15, 2008


The Los Angeles DA had nothing to do with it.

Exactly. grouse has it right. That's why this case is being heard in Federal Court, not City or State.
posted by ericb at 2:26 PM on May 15, 2008


She should be charged, but this charge is weak.

Well someone should keep an ion it then.




(what, too soon?)
posted by tkolar at 2:26 PM on May 15, 2008 [49 favorites]


On December 3rd, after his review of the case, Jack Banas announced that no charges would be brought. In Banas’s reckoning, the Drews are conclusively guilty of little except egregious judgment that set off a chain of horrible events, and deep insensitivity in their aftermath. He invoked the Duke lacrosse case as a cautionary example of due process succumbing to the passions of a community inflamed. “Are you going to hug this lady, say she did something great?” he told me. “No. She made a huge, fatal mistake by trusting these kids. But there are undisputed facts and disputed facts, and even if you believe all of them they still don’t give you a criminal fact pattern in the state of Missouri.”
I find myself in agreement with Mr. Banas here. That Mrs. Drew is an especially revolting kind of monster doesn't necessarily mean that she's broken any laws. I'm not saying that anyone should forgive or forget by any stretch of the imagination, but this seems like a situation where charging her with this crime is opening up a kind of slippery slope here. If prosecution is successful, who is to say that some industrious crime fighter won't use that as a way to go after other folks who engage in unpopular speech online?

So, hate her? Yes. Encouraging folks to boycott her business? By all means. Shun her? Mais oui. Send her to jail? Yikes, that could be a bad thing for all of us in the long run.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:27 PM on May 15, 2008 [19 favorites]


maybe apologizing to the family every day...

If I was the father, the only apology I'd be interested in seeing would involve self immolation. And to be frank, it wouldn't make me feel much better.
posted by Project F at 2:33 PM on May 15, 2008


I would go with fraud (for pretending to be someone else).

Fraud usually requires some sort of potential property benefit to the accused.


Maybe. I would think that a good prosecutor could have argued that the woman had some kind of vindictive grudge and the gain was seeing the girl suffer, but that's not really material benefit.

Since they didn't go with this much more serious charge, I would guess that you are correct and they didn't think it would stick.

Pity, because that could have put her away for a while.
posted by quin at 2:34 PM on May 15, 2008


Oh, and even if the charges don't stick, I'm glad to see her being charged in an extremely inconvenient manner.

It's good to see that she will be forced to face an expensive, inconvenient and horribly embarrassing ordeal. It's not jail, but it's better than nothing
posted by Project F at 2:34 PM on May 15, 2008 [5 favorites]


Make a Sockpuppet, Go to Jail

no, rather make a sockpuppet, have someone die, go to trial.

twenty bucks says she's going to lose everything to the lawyers but skirt jail.
posted by krautland at 2:35 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


When speech kills, it's a bit more serious than "unpopular".
posted by nomisxid at 2:37 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm glad she's finally being charged, I was ticked when they initially declined to prosecute this case.

I'd be even happier if they retried Mary Winkler as well, who got an absurdly light sentence for killing her husband, possibly due to religious bullshit.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:38 PM on May 15, 2008


They didn't find enough. She should be charged with manslaughter.

I think that's a really bad legal precedent. Screaming to charge her with manslaughter or murder is judgment by emotion, and that's the worst type of judgment you can make.

I am annoyed that there's less focus on direct abuse of a child here, though. I think the conspiracy charge is valid but the key issue here is this is an adult who consciously manipulated and mentally abused a child with malicious intent.

The charges here focus on the act of deception and abusing a website, which seriously aren't the problem here. She didn't steal MP3s; she tormented a teenage girl. This is about bullying and wanting to hurt a person, and that's the issue that needs to be addressed.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:38 PM on May 15, 2008 [9 favorites]


Not every horrible thing that one human being does to another is, or should be, against the law.
posted by anifinder at 2:38 PM on May 15, 2008 [5 favorites]


anifinder: When the horrible thing results in the death of the other human being, I think extra consideration of whether it should be against the law is due.

Of course, there are always other considerations. Let's say that it became a crime to bully someone to the point of suicide. Might this encourage people to commit suicide since they know their tormentors are more likely to then be punished? Hmmm.
posted by grouse at 2:49 PM on May 15, 2008 [4 favorites]


This is about bullying and wanting to hurt a person, and that's the issue that needs to be addressed.

I agree, charge with that, put her in a room and throw away the room. I also fear of making a bad precedent, but all of my judgments would be by emotion, so thank god I am not in the position to make these judgments, nor will I try.
posted by sir_rubixalot at 2:51 PM on May 15, 2008


When speech kills, it's a bit more serious than "unpopular".

See, I work with high school students. The kinds of things that were written back and forth in the MySpace exchange before Megan's suicide are exactly the sorts of things angry adolescents say to each other all the time. I mean, all the time. They say things like that to each other to.

"I hope you die."

"I wish you were dead."

Or, perhaps, the adult version, "I wish all those [liberals/conservatives] would just die already."

The specific e-mail exchange in question, even according to the eyewitness testimony, was initiated from the daughter and the 18year old worker. Even if the mom was aware of what she was writing, the sort of stuff she was writing was (again) typical of what adolescents write to each other.

Now, I'm not defending this. It is bullying and the mom should have told the daughter to cut it out.

What I'm saying is that if we agree that typing "I wish you'd die" or "the world would be a better place without you" is tantamount to shooting somebody in the head, we're heading in a dangerous direction.

Furthermore, I'm not absolving Mrs. Drew of responsibility here. I'm just saying that successfully going after her for this may open up the doors to the law going after other people for what they write online.

Do we really want prosecutors looking for ways to charge people with crimes when no clear crime has been committed?

Mrs. Drew is a total douche. The community was addressing her douche-etry in an appropriate way. Opening up criminal charges against her, no matter how satisfying it might feel, is going to come back to haunt us. Surely prosecuting one douche isn't worth risking a loss of rights for the rest of us?
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:01 PM on May 15, 2008 [16 favorites]


Am I reading this right? They're trying to turn a violation of the MySpace TOS into a federal crime?

That's scary as fuck, people.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:03 PM on May 15, 2008 [16 favorites]


I am thrilled at this, but it is a serious abuse of prosecutorial power, and all the worse because the unpopularity of the defendant gives it a better chance of establishing a very dangerous precedent that will stick.
posted by jamjam at 3:03 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm with Joey, et al on this. The woman is reprehensible, and I'm all for whatever informal public shaming attends her the rest of her days. This criminal thing, though, seems both flimsy and potentially problematic as legal precedent, from my completely not-a-lawyer point of view.
posted by everichon at 3:06 PM on May 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


mr_roboto, you are entirely right.

Another problem with bringing this charge, is that if it fails to stick, the defendant will be able to claim vindication and innocence, when she is anything but innocent. She might just not be guilty of any criminal offense.
posted by grouse at 3:11 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am SpartacusLori Drew.
posted by fleetmouse at 3:12 PM on May 15, 2008


In some fantasy world where every idea I have goes really well without having any unforeseen consequences, the legal judgement for this case would be that Mrs. Drew is found not guilty, but the Meier family, every member of it, is granted before-the-fact amnesty on all pending charges of manslaughter and murder in the first degree.
posted by shmegegge at 3:14 PM on May 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


As much as I think she's a vile person who deserves a special place in Hell, I'm not really sure this is a task for the criminal justice system. It's a mistake to assume just because someone did something vile, that it necessarily should be illegal; every time you make a law, you have to consider all the "bycatch" (to borrow a term). Sometimes it's better to let things be handled extrajudicially, say by public opinion just making life intolerable for this woman for the rest of her days, than to try and make everything that's wrong illegal.

The justice system isn't a scalpel; it's a really, really big bludgeon. It's always sad when someone dies, but one life isn't necessarily enough to warrant writing a bunch of new laws that are going to have a lot of unintended consequences. The public is more than vicious enough to take care of, and keep tabs on, one particularly evil person.

Telling someone that it'd be great if they killed themselves is a nasty thing to do, but it's not comparable to actually putting a gun to their head and pulling the trigger. Making it equivalent simply because we'd really like to see Mrs. Drew get the needle (or some other punishment) would be a mistake. It would open the door to all sorts of really terrible abuses of the legal system, and you need to keep that sort of thing in mind when making laws.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:15 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Has no one actually linked to a copy of the indictment yet?

Sigh.

As revealed by the indictment, the "unauthorized access" results from various violations of MySpace's terms of service.

I'm no expert on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), but at least one court has found that violation of a company's terms of service constitutes "unauthorized access" for purposes of the Act. See America Online, Inc. v. LCGM, Inc., 46 F. Supp. 2d 444, 450-51 (E.D. Va. 1998).

The CFAA makes it illegal to, among other things, "intentionally access[] a computer without authorization or exceed[] authorized access, and thereby obtain[] . . . information from any protected computer if the conduct involved an interstate or foreign communication." 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2)(C).

The punishment for violating this subsection of the CFAA is a fine or up to 5 years imprisonment if "the offense was committed in furtherance of any criminal or tortious act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any State." Id. § (c)(2)(B)(ii). (Otherwise there needs to be some sort of pecuniary gain or the information gained needs to be worth $5,000 or more.)

So, how did Drew allegedly violate the CFAA? MySpace's terms of service forbid you from lying to MySpace or using your account to harrass other users, obtain personal information from minors, posting photos of people without their consent, etc. Drew broke all of these terms when, among other things, she registered as a teenage boy, got personal information from the 13 year old victim, and posted a picture of a teenage boy without his consent.

Because she violated MySpace's terms of service, her access to MySpace's servers was "unauthorized access." Her unauthorized access involved an "interstate . . . communication" because MySpace's servers are in California and Drew accessed them from a computer in Missouri.

Drew allegedly used her account and the information she received to harass the victim to the point where it constituted the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress, a well-recognized tort in Missouri (and, to my knowledge, recognized in all states). See, e.g., Central Missouri Elec. Co-op. v. Balke, 119 S.W.3d 627, 636 (Mo. Ct. App. 2003) ("To recover for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the [plaintiff] must show (1) the defendant's conduct was extreme and outrageous; (2) the defendant acted intentionally or recklessly; and (3) the defendant's conduct caused extreme emotional distress resulting in bodily harm."). Thus, her unauthorized access "was committed in furtherance of any . . . tortious act in violation of the . . . laws of the . . . any State."

Now, you could argue that the indictment may be an abuse of prosecutorial discretion, but I don't see how you can argue that this indictment is frivolous. On the contrary, it appears to be the product of good lawyering. Drew better hire herself a good criminal defense attorney.
posted by saslett at 3:19 PM on May 15, 2008 [32 favorites]


Is no one bringing up the fact that this adult woman was making sexual advances on a 13-year-old girl on the internet? Isn't that enough to make this wrong?
posted by giraffe at 3:29 PM on May 15, 2008 [4 favorites]


grouse writes: When the horrible thing results in the death of the other human being, I think extra consideration of whether it should be against the law is due.

Yes, but how far removed from the actual incident does one have to be before my action or inaction no longer "resulted in" someone's death? Surely there are myriad factors that could be attributed to leading up to the girl's psychological breakdown and subsequent suicide. Should the mother of the victim also be held responsible for failing to "closely monitor" the MySpace account sufficiently to suss out that her daughter was talking to a fraudster?

I'm not sure if our legal system should be in the business of making someone criminally culpable for "driving" someone to kill themselves. At some point, we have to draw the line. While this woman is certainly morally culpable in preying on the insecurities of a young girl, I think it would be an abuse of the legal system to convict her of the equivalent of murder.
posted by anifinder at 3:31 PM on May 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


The unauthorized access portion is a real stretch. If she's ever somehow convicted on that charge she'll win on appeal.
posted by aerotive at 3:51 PM on May 15, 2008


More legal analysis at the Volokh Conspiracy.
posted by saslett at 3:52 PM on May 15, 2008


this adult woman was making sexual advances on a 13-year-old girl

I don't think she was. I read that she created the account to find out if the victim was saying mean things about her daughter online. Which might be another angle on "obtaining personal information from minors."

Here's the really outrageous thing (from the New Yorker article that Miko linked to):

Lori Drew has called the police on the victims' parents at least twice since the suicide. And there's one possible solution: indict her for malicious prosecution. I don't think it would be very hard to get a jury to agree.
posted by msalt at 4:08 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bad facts make bad law.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:10 PM on May 15, 2008


I'm not sure if our legal system should be in the business of making someone criminally culpable for "driving" someone to kill themselves.

Though, we would have Homeland Security on someone's ass if they were "driving" someone to kill someone else (well, in limited cases...Stormfront doesn't seem to be suffering any)
posted by yeloson at 4:13 PM on May 15, 2008


This woman obviously never grew up. She was still in that high school mentality, getting involved with her daughter's petty little fights.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:19 PM on May 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


this adult woman was making sexual advances on a 13-year-old girl

I don't think she was. I read that she created the account to find out if the victim was saying mean things about her daughter online.


She did that posing as a teenaged boy who was interested in Megan, feigning a crush on her, etc:

"Drew stated she, her daughter, and Ashley all typed, read, and monitored the communication between the fake male profile and Megan. Drew went on to say, the communication became "sexual for a thirteen year old." Drew stated she continued the fake male profile despite this development.".
posted by zarah at 4:21 PM on May 15, 2008


Drew called Megan "sexi" and, as Josh Evans, invited Megan to touch his "snake." Link.

I'm still ambivalent about the charges, though.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:29 PM on May 15, 2008


Yes, there were sexual advances.

Drew and the co-conspirators using the alias "Josh Evans" invited [Megan] to touch the 'snake' of 'Josh Evans'."

Maybe he had a boa constrictor in the house. Who knows?
posted by giraffe at 4:31 PM on May 15, 2008


d'oh. should've previewed.
posted by giraffe at 4:32 PM on May 15, 2008


I'm just saying that successfully going after her for this may open up the doors to the law going after other people for what they write online.

It already is. There's a TV show called To 'Catch a Predator' based upon what men write online to 13 year old girls.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:46 PM on May 15, 2008


Hard time would be quite just
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:49 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think this is a frivolous prosecution, but I do think that the choice of venue is highly questionable, based on the Sixth Amendment:

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed..."

It's completely possible that Lori Drew has never been in Los Angeles in her life, so how could she be considered to have committed a crime there? I'm not sure I believe that US Court in Los Angeles has jurisdiction.

She was in Missouri. The server she was accessing was in Los Angeles. If she did violate the law, where did the crime take place? If I were her defense attorney I would move for a summary dismissal on the grounds that the alleged crime took place in Missouri, and therefore indictment and trial should take place there also. The fact that MySpace's servers are located in LA is completely irrelevant, I would expect him to argue.

Is there a legal precedent for establishing where wire crime takes place?
posted by Class Goat at 4:55 PM on May 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure if our legal system should be in the business of making someone criminally culpable for "driving" someone to kill themselves. At some point, we have to draw the line. While this woman is certainly morally culpable in preying on the insecurities of a young girl, I think it would be an abuse of the legal system to convict her of the equivalent of murder.

I agree completely. I need someone to do me a favor here, and I'm being serious.

Can someone explain to me, via PM, any grounds for griefing/trolling via the internet becoming a federal crime? I am trying to understand it in the context of this case and the girl's death, and in the context of our society in general. People are trolled in the same way all over the internet. In one major internet circle that most people nowadays are aware of, "KILL YOURSELF" is the the most popular thing said to anyone in need of advice.

This girl killed herself, and that is fucking sad and terrible. That being said, how is this different from any other form of assholery on the internet? How is this different from any other situation where it is within someone's emotional capacity to actually kill themselves, and some event in their life pushes them over the edge?
posted by crunch buttsteak at 4:57 PM on May 15, 2008


It already is. There's a TV show called To 'Catch a Predator' based upon what men write online to 13 year old girls.

There is a clear violation of child predator laws in that circumstance. In this circumstance, the prosecutor is stretching to find a law to fit the behavior.

And Mrs. Drew is still a douche.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:58 PM on May 15, 2008


And that program has also triggered a suicide.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:03 PM on May 15, 2008


This girl killed herself, and that is fucking sad and terrible. That being said, how is this different from any other form of assholery on the internet? How is this different from any other situation where it is within someone's emotional capacity to actually kill themselves, and some event in their life pushes them over the edge?

And as long as we're talking about interweb jackassery, allow me to derail and say...

I wonder if it had turned out Mrs. Drew wasn't involved at all - and Megan had killed herself based solely on her reaction to the insulting messages on MySpace - if a certain portion of the Interweb would be referring to her as "an hero" and griefing her parents instead of the Drews.

Not that anyone would be justified in doing that, mind you, but I'm too damn old to be able to see the difference between one teen suicide being tragic and another one being lulz worthy. They all seem pretty fucking tragic to me.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:04 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


People are trolled in the same way all over the internet. In one major internet circle that most people nowadays are aware of, "KILL YOURSELF" is the the most popular thing said to anyone in need of advice.

Hardly comparable.

This wasn't someone posting on 4chan and getting a swift "KILL YOURSELF LOL" near-meme response from anonymous posters. This was from someone (the artificial boy) that she considered a friend / nearly-boyfriend.
posted by CKmtl at 5:13 PM on May 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is no one bringing up the fact that this adult woman was making sexual advances on a 13-year-old girl on the internet? Isn't that enough to make this wrong?

No kidding. Can you imagine if every fact in this case were the same, except the adult parent checking up on his teenage daughter's friends was her father? He'd have been staring at concrete for some time already now.

This woman obviously never grew up. She was still in that high school mentality, getting involved with her daughter's petty little fights.

That's the saddest part of all. Certainly, she already knew the adult Meiers, yet chose to pursue this middle-school game, instead of discussing it with the other parents and presenting a common front.

There's no law against wanton nastiness, non-financial deceit, and emotional manipulation as far as I know.

Sure there is. Usually this law is called harassment. Some of the new laws -- some of them directly inspired by this case -- are called anti-bullying or cyberbullying. I think it's clear that if an adult were being so malicious to a 13-year-old in real life, they would face some sort of legal sanction. What would you do if a neighbor told your kid she wanted her dead? You'd call the damn police.

I'm still a bit astonished that the local DA could find no applicable Missouri law. Given the local climate it may have been a cinch even if a stretch. As such, their having declined to prosecute appropriate local laws means the federal application of somewhat broader and fuzzier laws. It's like when the Rodney King cops were charged with "violating his civil rights", when what they did was beat his fucking ass.

I think that the federal case's attaching the cybercrime to the tort as a means of committing something else is interesting. At the very least it does establish that this sort of "umbrella parenting" (maybe we should call it "all-weather tent parenting") is beyond the pale. At worst I don't think I'm entirely sure but I admit it's possible it could edge down one of those slippery slopes, but the way it's done I don't think so.

I do think it has a weak chance of succeeding, and even if it does, she will not see federal prison.
posted by dhartung at 5:19 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


it's like the flip side of this situation kind of. i don't think anyone believes "the law" as written and practiced is perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but making exceptions or manipulating it undermines it, which i think is bad. also, (and i know this isn't exactly germane to this case) if we believe that we'd rather have 10 guilty men go free than 1 innocent man go to jail, don't we kinda have to suck it up, even if the person going free is a total douche?
posted by snofoam at 5:31 PM on May 15, 2008


I'm just amazed that the charges aren't against Megan's father for capital murder, because I can't believe he had the patience to wait until there were some charges brought instead of taking the matter into his own hands.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:36 PM on May 15, 2008


Note that I'm not saying that would have been the right thing to do, so everyone readying their "vigilante justice" rants can take a deep breath and relax.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:39 PM on May 15, 2008


No kidding. Can you imagine if every fact in this case were the same, except the adult parent checking up on his teenage daughter's friends was her father? He'd have been staring at concrete for some time already now.

Gee, could this be because intent actually matters? "If every fact in this case were the same" and people tried to drag this infuriating To Catch a Predator bullshit into this case, it would only be because our society is literally insane.
posted by dgaicun at 5:40 PM on May 15, 2008


IANAL, but charging someone who violates a TOS with the crime of unauthorized access seems like me persuing Grand Theft Auto charges against someone because when I loaned them my car to go to the store, they agreed to pick up my laundry, but didn't. It would be a very scary precedent.

Nthing that this should *easily* fall under some kind of (non-'cyber') child abuse statute.
posted by blenderfish at 5:42 PM on May 15, 2008


Another problem I have with this: in order for this to reach felony status under the federal statute in question, the act charged under the federal law has to be tortious under a state law. (Per Saslett above)

So the US Attorney in Los Angeles will have to prove in Federal Court that Lori Drew behaved in a manner which is legally actionable under Missouri state law, despite the fact that Lori Drew was never sued in Missouri for the alleged behavior.

At the very least that seems to violate the Tenth Amendment (and the Sixth), but I think it also violates Article III, because the US Attorney doesn't have standing in that civil matter.

That allegation of tortious behavior is the foundation of most of the legal claims in this federal case. Without it, most of the case collapses. And I don't see how a federal court in California has jurisdiction to decide whether there's been a violation of Missouri civil law.
posted by Class Goat at 5:48 PM on May 15, 2008


Another point just occurred to me: the foundation of this is a claim of violation of Missouri state civil law.

That means that the US Attorney in Los Angeles has already conceded that the alleged crime took place in Missouri. Therefore under the Sixth Amendment indictment and trial should also take place in Missouri.
posted by Class Goat at 5:52 PM on May 15, 2008


So the US Attorney in Los Angeles will have to prove in Federal Court that Lori Drew behaved in a manner which is legally actionable under Missouri state law, despite the fact that Lori Drew was never sued in Missouri for the alleged behavior.

I think the argument is that any tort would be against MySpace under California law. I don't know what that tort would be, however.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:54 PM on May 15, 2008


In this circumstance, the prosecutor is stretching to find a law to fit the behavior.

And Mrs. Drew is still a douche.


Indeed, and now her douchery *ahem* is brought to better light. More and more people are aware of this. Her neighbors, her friends friends, her knitting circle. All of whom can hopefully at least help raise some kind of moral question about the actions she partakes in. At least so she isn't waving off the victim's mother, shrugging, and saying "Not my problem."
posted by P.o.B. at 6:00 PM on May 15, 2008


I think the argument is that any tort would be against MySpace under California law. I don't know what that tort would be, however.

But no tort has been proved in any state court. As far as I know, Lori Drew hasn't been sued anywhere, and hasn't faced criminal prosecution anywhere, before this indictment. So just what tortious or illegal behavior under state law can be cited in this federal case, which is required in order for this to become felonious under the federal statute?

Seems to me that "presumption of innocence" kicks in. Absent court decisions to the contrary, legally we must consider Lori Drew innocent of tortious or illegal behavior under state law. All state law. The federal court in Los Angeles doesn't have jurisdiction to make a decision to the contrary.
posted by Class Goat at 6:05 PM on May 15, 2008


Nobody's suggested this yet, but I would think that this is a case better handled in civil court.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:11 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gee, could this be because intent actually matters?

This also leads to what should be the single most (if not only) important question for this entire case: the known mental state of Megan Meier. Did Lori Drew have reason to know of Meier's unusual mental state?

And the evidence required here should be steep, that Drew had good reason to believe this was the likely consequence of her actions.

If not, the legal ramifications should be no more severe, and the case looked at no more differently, than if Meier had instead simply found out about the malicious prank and reported it to the police. A much more likely alternate scenario that wouldn't have resulted in much.
posted by dgaicun at 6:12 PM on May 15, 2008


nebulawindphone writes "If it's established that you're guilty of manslaughter for causing the emotional injury that leads to the suicide, there's gonna be a lot of ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-bosses and former friends getting prosecuted."

Good point. And, moreover it would encourage suicide, in cases where the suicider wanted to get back at someone.
posted by orthogonality at 6:19 PM on May 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


From the CNN article:

"Megan was being treated for attention deficit disorder and depression, her family has said. Meier has said Drew knew Megan was on medication."
posted by CKmtl at 6:20 PM on May 15, 2008


from saslett's actual description of the indictment: 'the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress, a well-recognized tort in Missouri (and, to my knowledge, recognized in all states)'
posted by jacalata at 6:47 PM on May 15, 2008


Did Lori Drew have reason to know of Meier's unusual mental state?
I think so. They took family vacations together, and the New Yorker article emphasizes how close everyone on that street is.

I can't believe Megan's father had the patience to wait until there were some charges brought instead of taking the matter into his own hands.
Acc. to New Yorker, he took a foosball table they were storing for the Drews, chopped it into bits and left it on their lawn when they found out (a year after the suicide!) about the hoax. He is currently under indictment for doing a "lawn job" on the Drews, whatever that is; he denies it.
posted by msalt at 6:56 PM on May 15, 2008


Is the prosecution's theory really that anyone who violates a TOS commits a federal crime? That's hilarious.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:56 PM on May 15, 2008


...I don't know what kind of rehab there is for it, maybe apologizing to the family every day...
posted by cavalier at 2:45 PM on May 15 [+] [!]


If I recall, (other article's down), the Meiers had borrowed something of the Drews (a ping-pong table?). After the Drews (the parents) involvement in the suicide came to light, the Meiers cut it up and burned it in the Drews' yard.

The Drews sued the Meiers.
posted by swell at 7:13 PM on May 15, 2008


Is the prosecution's theory really that anyone who violates a TOS commits a federal crime?

No.

Read the indictment.

Violating the TOS isn't a crime. It just satisfies one of many elements of the crime (assuming the indictment is based on a correct understanding of the law -- I don't know what the law really says).

By analogy, if burglary is a crime that has "entering a home" as one of its elements, you wouldn't say that the law has criminalized entering a home.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:15 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think Microsoft for one might like to have a precedent where someone who violates a TOS commits a federal crime.
posted by casarkos at 7:16 PM on May 15, 2008


Violating the TOS isn't a crime. It just satisfies one of many elements of the crime (assuming the indictment is based on a correct understanding of the law -- I don't know what the law really says).

What other elements? The tort stuff is just to enhance it to a felony.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:25 PM on May 15, 2008


The Agreement shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of New York, without regard to its conflict of law provisions. You and MySpace agree to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts located within the State of New York to resolve any dispute arising out of the Agreement or the MySpace Services.

i'm not sure of how courts decide jurisdictional disputes, but if they're claiming the TOS was violated, and that's a criminal charge, isn't new york the location of the crime? - can the government claim a violation of TOS when they aren't following the TOS themselves?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:38 PM on May 15, 2008


This has nothing to do with the internet and everything to do with people being shits.

On a deeper level, it also has a lot to do with a culture where the approval or disapproval of society can actually cause serious mental damage to individuals. This tells me that something has gone very, very wrong.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:40 PM on May 15, 2008


I should clarify: by "society" I mean "peer groups" or "immediate circles of familiarity". Society as a whole has been driving people nuts for centuries.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:45 PM on May 15, 2008


i'm not sure of how courts decide jurisdictional disputes, but if they're claiming the TOS was violated, and that's a criminal charge, isn't new york the location of the crime? - can the government claim a violation of TOS when they aren't following the TOS themselves?

The government isn't a party to the violation of the TOS, so it's not bound by it. In any event, criminal charges aren't what's meant by "disputes arising out of the Agreement"--this refers to disputes between parties to the TOS that involve the subject matter of the TOS.

The criminal court, when determining whether the TOS was violated, would presumably apply New York law to construe the agreement, but any court anywhere can do this.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:49 PM on May 15, 2008


I think Microsoft for one might like to have a precedent where someone who violates a TOS commits a federal crime.

Or Blizzard... Imagine; one second you're pwning noobs from the roofs in Gadgetzan, the next second, the Feds are busting down your door.
posted by blenderfish at 8:53 PM on May 15, 2008


There is a huge gulf between "omg U suck go DIE" from some random person (your garden-variety internet nonsense), and deliberately suckering someone in with (what they think is) their dream guy, bonds with them, and then suddenly turns on them in wishing them dead. There is a much greater depth of cruelty there. And the fact that this is a child she knew well just makes it all the more abhorrent.

I hope they get her. Maybe it will be the factor of the deliberate fraud that makes the difference.
posted by marble at 10:11 PM on May 15, 2008


They should dig deeper. Tax evasion. That's the ticket.
posted by mazola at 10:21 PM on May 15, 2008


Wired has a bit on this:
In their eagerness to visit justice on a 49-year-old woman involved in the Megan Meier MySpace suicide tragedy, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles are resorting to a novel and dangerous interpretation of a decades-old computer crime law -- potentially making a felon out of anybody who violates the terms of service of any website, experts say.

"This is a novel and extreme reading of what [the law] prohibits," says Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "To say that you're violating a criminal law by registering to speak under a false name is highly problematic. It's probably an unconstitutional reading of the statute."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:32 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Did she feel bad about what happened afterward?
posted by JHarris at 12:38 AM on May 16, 2008


On a deeper level, it also has a lot to do with a culture where the approval or disapproval of society can actually cause serious mental damage to individuals.

Societal acceptance in a social species is a powerful thing.

As to this case? Yeah, Lori Drew is a bad person, etc. The Fed case looks like a power grab to increase Federal authority over one place the Feds have little precedent.
posted by ryoshu at 12:58 AM on May 16, 2008


Grills also said she wrote the message to Megan about the world being a better place without her. The message was supposed to end the online relationship with "Josh" because Grills felt the joke had gone too far.

"I was trying to get her angry so she would leave him alone and I could get rid of the whole MySpace," Grills told the morning show.
Thought it bore repeating.
posted by asok at 2:29 AM on May 16, 2008


This has nothing to do with the internet and everything to do with people being shits.

True. See: Linda Tripp.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:23 AM on May 16, 2008


"Josh Evans" told M.T.M in substance, that the world would be a better place without M.T.M. in it.

I'm sorry. "In substance?" Let's think about this.

Say I told me conservative religious office mate that I did not believe I would go to hell for not believing in her god. By some interpretations, did I "in substance" tell her that her beliefs are ludicrous? This may be an oversimpflication, but it strikes me as incredibly odd that a legal document with the potential to signifantly change and/or destroy a life should be a bit more specific. Did anyone else notice this?

Anyway, completely aside from all that... Isn't she essentially being charged with being mean? Sure, the situation is tragic. I don't see how anyone could argue that it isn't. But the charges are pretty far-fetched. I haven't been in high school for several years now, and the interactions between my coworkers are on the same caliber as this most days.

I'm not saying I agree with what she did. I'm saying that this feels a lot more like religious and moral condemnation than it does legality. And that is dangerous territory.
posted by TrinaSelwyn at 5:20 AM on May 16, 2008


And by "me conservative" I mean "my conservative." Someone's proofreading skills are not quite up to par this morning.
posted by TrinaSelwyn at 5:22 AM on May 16, 2008


but I've got my pitchfork and my gasoline for this one..

I've got your back and a book of matches
posted by timsteil at 5:36 AM on May 16, 2008


Anyway, completely aside from all that... Isn't she essentially being charged with being mean?

No, she's essentially being charged with violating MySpace's TOS. Being mean while doing it turns the crime into a felony.

TOS violation alone = misdemeanor.
Meanness alone = not a crime.
TOS violation + Meanness = felony.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:55 AM on May 16, 2008


Have we Americans so abandoned manual work that even our pitchforks are now gasoline powered?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:57 AM on May 16, 2008 [5 favorites]


Well, the comments in this thread certainly make for an interesting read. There certainly appears to be unilateral hatred/contempt/disgust for Lori Drew, and rightly so. It is hard to imagine an adult preying on a child in such a manner.
I am in agreement with previous posters regarding the precedent being set here though. Given our love of lawyering and litigation in this country, what kind of pandora's box just got opened here? I fear the snowball effect of this action.
posted by a3matrix at 7:34 AM on May 16, 2008


Ridiculous charges. Grandstanding.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:27 AM on May 16, 2008


In other words, the issue would be better settled in a civil court, which is sounds like it will.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:29 AM on May 16, 2008


In other words, the issue would be better settled in a civil court

That's a great idea. Maybe after the civil suit, they can use the money to solve this issue in a constructive way!

I suggest they start by filling a sock full of quarters.
posted by vorfeed at 8:53 AM on May 16, 2008


In order, the things that concern me about this are:
  1. The US legal system - public pressure so often wins out over what should be legally correct
  2. The behaviour of the lnych mobs (both in the physical world and in cyberspace), who want summary punishment meted out to Lori Drew irrespective of the actual evidence ("After all, the paper's have already proved how evil she is!")
  3. MySpace somehow being absolved all responsibility, despite doing nothing to stop an underage girl registering for an account
  4. Immunity from prosecution being given to the person seemingly most responsible for the death of Megan Meier (self confessedly so!)
  5. The behaviour of Lori Drew
  6. The abjugation of reponsibility by Megan Meier's parents, who allowed her to register for a service that they knew was too old for her, then let her access it unsupervised

posted by daveg at 10:00 AM on May 16, 2008


Gee, could this be because intent actually matters? "If every fact in this case were the same" and people tried to drag this infuriating To Catch a Predator bullshit into this case, it would only be because our society is literally insane.

I'm not at all clear what point you're trying to make here, and I've no strong feelings either way on the validity of the charges brought. However, I'm inclined to the view that any adult who intentionally befriends a child, with the conscious aim of emotionally manipulating them in order to deliberately crush whatever self-esteem or self-belief they once had is far more reprehensible and far more culpable than an adult who intentionally befriends a child with the conscious aim of emotionally manipulating them in an attempt to persuade them to engage in quasi-consensual sex (quasi due to fact that it's impossible for a 13 year old to legally consent here).

While both are undoubtedly abusive, there's a degree of malicious intent involved in the former act that I believe is lacking in the second act. When a paedophile seduces your kid, any trauma that ensures is a side-effect of his primary intention. In a case like this though, the infliction of severe emotional trauma on a child is the primary goal of the abuser.

By that rationale, she deserves at least as much jail time as any paedophile.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:39 AM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


# The US legal system - public pressure so often wins out over what should be legally correct

# The behaviour of the lnych mobs (both in the physical world and in cyberspace), who want summary punishment meted out to Lori Drew irrespective of the actual evidence ("After all, the paper's have already proved how evil she is!")


Absolutely - the bad precedent this sets and the mindless howling for punishment from the shoggoth-like mass of the public are the real monsters in this affair - so much so that I fully defend and support Lori Drew.

I'm also frightened by how many MeFites come out against the prosecution of Lori Drew but feel compelled to demonstrate their bona fides by wearing their loathing on their sleeves. Sweethearts, if you want to be recognized for your humanity, do it by being nice to people, not by showing us how much you hate the latest boogeyman.
posted by fleetmouse at 10:42 AM on May 16, 2008


I fully defend and support Lori Drew

Please be explicit rather than engaging in yet more meaningless 'I am Sparticus' posturing here. What exactly is it that you're really saying? That you fully defend and support the right of adults to anonymously and maliciously stalk and harrass children over the internet?

Sweetheart, if you want to be recognized for *your* humanity, do it having a little bit more empathy for victims and their families rather than by showing us how much you hate them for seeking justice for their dead child.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:07 AM on May 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


That you fully defend and support the right of adults to anonymously and maliciously stalk and harrass children over the internet?

Oh, is she being charged with stalking and harrassing?
posted by fleetmouse at 11:18 AM on May 16, 2008


How I hate America, babies, victims of trauma and all good and innocent things. Surely I must, given my reluctance to call for legislation against meanness and other unsavory dispositions.
posted by fleetmouse at 11:30 AM on May 16, 2008


In a case like this though, the infliction of severe emotional trauma on a child is the primary goal of the abuser.

Excellent point.

Oh, is she being charged with stalking and harrassing?

No. Why not? I can't fathom that.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:34 AM on May 16, 2008


No. Why not? I can't fathom that.

Perhaps the prosecutors are part of a global Satanic conspiracy. It's the only reason I can think of!
posted by fleetmouse at 11:42 AM on May 16, 2008


Note to Anonymous: when the COS thing dies down, you have your next task waiting.
posted by bhance at 12:17 PM on May 16, 2008


Wait- so Lori Drew didn't even make the comments that apparently drove the girl to suicide?!?

(not defending her, terrible person, hope she rots in hell, etc....)
posted by Challahtronix at 12:42 PM on May 16, 2008


No. Why not? I can't fathom that.

Perhaps the prosecutors are part of a global Satanic conspiracy. It's the only reason I can think of!


wtf, dude? What she did seems to be pretty clearly (cyber)stalking and (cyber)harassment. I don't understand why she wasn't charged with those. That's a reasonable statement, with the subtext 'but presumably there's a good reason, somewhere.'

FFS.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:58 PM on May 16, 2008


I'm also frightened by how many MeFites come out against the prosecution of Lori Drew but feel compelled to demonstrate their bona fides by wearing their loathing on their sleeves. Sweethearts, if you want to be recognized for your humanity, do it by being nice to people, not by showing us how much you hate the latest boogeyman.

When the lynch mob is running down the street, you can't shout out "love your neighbor" and expect to have any kind of persuasive effect.

I might agree that the target of the lynch mob's ire is entirely deserving of punishment, but of the belief that the rout that the lynch mob is taking is wrong.

If I start talking to the lynch mob from a shared point of view, they are more likely to hear and maybe even come around to my point of view.

To whit, I do believe that Mrs. Drew is a douche and don't feel any need to show her love. I also believe that prosecuting her for this will do more harm than good in the long run.

Ergo, I'm not trying to show my humanity. I'm trying to show my cold Vulcan logic.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:08 PM on May 16, 2008


I'm not at all clear what point you're trying to make here

Well then please go read the comment in context. Several people were suggesting it was obvious that sexual charges should legitimately be brought against Drew too.
posted by dgaicun at 1:29 PM on May 16, 2008


If you could take the various attitudes expressed in this thread, and somehow attach them to whether or not each person has children, and then scatterplot the whole thing, I bet there'd be two big clusters.
posted by davejay at 3:15 PM on May 16, 2008


Covered
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:47 PM on May 16, 2008


Wait- so Lori Drew didn't even make the comments that apparently drove the girl to suicide?!?

She is currently denying that she made them. But when she first spoke to police -- after she called the cops on the victim's parents -- she gave a statement that said she was actively involved.

The reason she called the police was that the Meiers chopped up a foosball table they were storing for the Drews, and put it on thei Drew's lawn in a box spraypainted "Merry Christmas", after they found about about Lori Drew's role. Lori later called police again because Mr. Meiers drove by their house and shouted "Who ya gonna kill today?"
posted by msalt at 8:53 PM on May 16, 2008


wtf, dude? What she did seems to be pretty clearly (cyber)stalking and (cyber)harassment. I don't understand why she wasn't charged with those.

Are those even crimes? I don't know. If they aren't crimes, though, that would probably be a good indication of why she wasn't charged with them.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:13 PM on May 16, 2008


The specifically cyber version are in (AFAIK) many jurisdictions. The more prosaic sort are crimes in just about all jurisdictions, I think?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:30 PM on May 16, 2008


Are those even crimes?


Mo. lawmakers vote to bar Internet harassment
"Responding to the suicide of a Missouri teenager who was teased over the Internet, state lawmakers Friday gave final approval to a bill making cyber harassment illegal.

The bill updates state laws against harassment to keep pace with technology by removing the requirement that the communication be written or over the telephone. Supporters say the bill will now cover harassment from computers, text messages and other electronic devices.

It was approved 106-23 in the House and 34-0 in the Senate and now goes to the governor.

Many of the bill's provisions came from a special gubernatorial task force that studied Internet harassment after the media last fall reported on the details of Megan Meier's suicide.

...'Without a good, quality cyber stalking and harassment law, which we don't currently have, we have to go to federal courts in other states to make a stretching leap argument,' said Rupp, R-Wentzville.

State Sen. Harry Kennedy, D-St. Louis, said the law is 'definitely a warning shot for those folks who want to use the Internet for harassment.'

...Under Rupp's bill, repeat offenders and someone who is at least 21 years old could be charged with a felony and face up to four years in prison if they harass a minor. Other instances of harassment would remain a misdemeanor with penalties of up to a year in jail."
posted by ericb at 6:15 AM on May 17, 2008


If you've been reading carefully, you may have noticed something a bit off about this charge. Their argument is that violating a website's terms of service is equivalent to accessing the website "without authorization and in excess of authorized access", and is thus a federal crime in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This radical, convoluted interpretation is a cataclysmically bad idea. It twists the law to the breaking point, and sets one of the worst precedents in the history of the internet. This is how bad it is: MySpace is dictating federal law. Under their TOS, anyone with inaccurate personal information on their profile could be prosecuted for the same crime. And this isn't limited to MySpace; any website's TOS would be enforceable under the CFAA. Hardly anyone reads the Byzantine legalese of TOSes, and the consequences of disobedience now reach far beyond simply having your account deleted. I could draft a TOS that says "no bitching about all the pink", and if you criticized the color scheme, you could be imprisoned for five years.

Nobody fucks with the Rupert.
posted by fleetmouse at 12:11 PM on May 17, 2008


as much as i want to see lori drew served, i'm really uncomfortable with the implications here - if it's "unauthorized access" to violate a TOS, what about a EULA? - this is opening up a can of worms that may just be giving the government power we don't really want it to have
posted by pyramid termite at 7:49 PM on May 17, 2008


It's horrible what she did to that girl. But couldn't someone have given the girl some tactics on how to deal with people like this (real or fake)? Usually a good ol autopsy photo or something gross sends these morons into space.
posted by dasheekeejones at 9:43 AM on May 19, 2008


Well, I'm sure no one is reading this thread anymore, but sure enough, as predicted, the legal ramifications of this case in Missouri are leading to truly disturbing and Orwellian laws.

Has anybody here ever been mean, petty, or perhaps, unfortunately, not not-asshole to anyone on the Internet or in real life... ever? Well congrats, you're a felon now. The all-seeing, all-knowing Ned Flanders Happy Police will be at your doorstop for your Re-Neducation lobotomy because "we've got a Negative Nelly in Sector Two":
So you're annoyed by a 16-year-old who's too loud, and you insult them in front of friends in a way that's "emotionally distressing" — under the new law, you'd be a felon. You're annoyed by what you see as poor service from a 16-year-old employee in a store, and you berate them in front of other customers in a way that's "emotionally distressing," and you'd be a felon if the judge or jury concludes that the public berating is "[w]ithout good cause." And whenever two 13-year-olds distress each other without good cause, they'd both be committing misdemeanors. I hope the governor vetoes the bill, but I have no reason to expect that.
And don't even think about cheating on your lover, or trying to make them jealous, that's "emotionally distressing" donchaknow:
And it's not just cheating, in the sense of illicit sex. The same could be if you have a not-yet-sexual romantic relationship with Alan, and then let yourself be caught kissing Bob in order to distress Alan. The touchstone, after all, is just the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Thank you, Niceness Laws, the world has once again been made a better place by stricter force of arms:

STEEEEMPY. I. AM. SO. HAPPPPPPPY! I. MUST. GO. DO. NICE. THEEENGS! Hee heeheeheee; Ha hahaha!
posted by dgaicun at 5:29 AM on May 25, 2008


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