/ December 10, 2008

Myspace Bully Charged With Wrong Crime


We’ve all heard about the famous case that brought the concept of cyber bullying to our attention. When two Missouri teens failed to resolve their dispute, one of the teens’ mother, Lori Drew, got involved by creating a false Myspace account under the name “Josh Evans.” With this account, Drew befriended – and eventually emotionally devastated – her daughter’s former friend, Megan.  Megan, a 13-year-old Missouri girl, hanged herself after her online friend “Josh Evans,” sent Megan a message over Myspace, telling her that he did not want to be friends with her and that the world would be better off without her.

Prosecutors charged Lori Drew with  a violation of Section 1030 of the U.S. Code — which is designed to protect against unauthorized access to computer networks to cause damage, steal information or money or jeopardize national security. The legal theory behind the charge was that Drew violated MySpace’s terms of service which prohibit misrepresenting your identity and harassing others. Despite some outcries in the legal community over setting bad precedent by misuse of the statute, the jury convicted Drew of misdemeanor violations. The jury, however, did not convict Drew on felony charges.


Some legal experts argue that no current law, including 1030 of the U.S. Code,was not designed to prevent people from lying about their identity, or otherwise violating rules on a publicly available online service. Andrea Matwyshyn, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School stated, “Empowering terms of use to be key pieces of evidence in criminal matters — when terms of use are generally thought of by the people who are entering into them as purely contract or civil matters — is something that should be done carefully. I think you’re going to have strong disagreement as to whether this is an advisable course to take.”

Source: CBS News



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