Internet

Cyberbullying Sentencing Scheduled for May 18

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On Friday I mentioned the Lori Drew case in connection with the egregious Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act. It turns out that Drew, who was convicted last fall of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 by participating in the MySpace prank that seems to have precipitated Meier's suicide, is scheduled to be sentenced the week after next by U.S. District Judge George Wu. Although she could face up to a year in jail on each of three misdemeanor counts, her presentencing report recommends probation and a $5,000 fine. Drew's defense attorney, H. Dean Seward, thinks probation is a fair result but objects to the fine, which he says his client cannot afford. U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien has not responded to the report yet.

Seward quite rightly objects to letting Meier's mother speak at the sentencing hearing, noting that her daughter's suicide is not part of Drew's offenses. When O'Brien twisted a law aimed at hackers to punish a widely reviled woman for cruel conduct that happened to be perfectly legal, he made MySpace the victim instead of Meier, saying Drew ran afoul of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by violating the social networking site's terms of service. (The jury deadlocked on a felony charge under the law, which accused Drew of conspiring to "access a computer without authorization" and "obtain information from that computer to further a tortious act, namely, intentional infliction of emotional distress.") Wu still has not ruled on a defense motion for a directed acquittal, based on the argument that Drew never saw MySpace's terms of service, let alone agreed to them, and therefore cannot be guilty of unauthorized access, an intentional act. If the courts reject that argument, anyone who inadvertently violates a website's rules could be charged with a federal crime.

More Reason coverage of the case here.

NEXT: The Craigslist Crack-Up

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  1. Lori Drew is a prisoner of conscience. Trumped-up charges for legal activity should scare the hell out of anyone.

  2. The double post was deleted and you left the one with the DEJA VU making me look like a tard. I don’t need help. I do it quite well on my own.

  3. The world would be a better place without O’Brien.

  4. “If the courts reject that argument, anyone who inadvertently violates a website’s rules could be charged with a federal crime.”

    The wet dream of every prosecutor. All are guilty, none know why…

  5. You said, “Wu still has not ruled on a defense motion for a directed acquittal, based on the argument that Drew never saw MySpace’s terms of service, let alone agreed to them, and therefore cannot be guilty of unauthorized access, an intentional act. If the courts reject that argument, anyone who inadvertently violates a website’s rules could be charged with a federal crime.”

    Without commenting on any of the other aspects of the case, I’ll just point that the other side of that coin. If the courts accept that argument, anyone who intentionally violates a website’s rules could be found innocent simply by saying they never saw the terms of service. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

  6. anyone who intentionally violates a website’s rules could be found innocent simply by saying they never saw the terms of service. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    That’s the problem. Prior to Lori Drew nobody considered violating a website’s TOS “computer fraud”.
    The law was aimed at hackers, not people saying mean things to eachother on the internet.

    The expansionist use of the computer fraud law in this case opens the door to all sorts of criminal prosecutions of people for their online behavior.

    That fact that you ALREADY assume that violating TOS is the same as breaking criminal law demonstrates this more eloquently than I can.

  7. “If the courts reject that argument, anyone who inadvertently violates a website’s rules could be charged with a federal crime.”

    Oh, what fun we’ll have…

    Don’t even THINK about using that logo that you downloaded from the sight you hate in any cartoon, E-mail, or website.

  8. “anyone who intentionally violates a website’s rules could be found innocent simply by saying they never saw the terms of service. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

    Violating a web site’s rules is NOT a Federal offense. The law in question was designed for hackers and should only apply to them.

  9. That makes sence, I suppose

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  11. The law in question was designed for hackers and should only apply to them.

    Propeller cap on.

    A hacker is someone who examines code for security flaws and lets every know about the flaws. Hackers are the good guys.

    A cracker is someone who examines code for security flaws and exploits the flaws for criminal gains or mischief. Crackers are the bad guys.

    Propeller cap off.

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  15. The world would be a better place without O’Brien.

    Many who live deserve death. And I daresay many who die deserve life. Can you give it to them Frodo?

    Even the wise cannot see all ends.

  16. Lori Drew is a prisoner of conscience. Trumped-up charges for legal activity should scare the hell out of anyone.

    Perhaps, I get what you are saying, if the wrong people are in charge, but what if the legal activity is something that aught to be illegal? Also, how do we punish someone who hasn’t broken a law, but is a dirtbag that just needs some punishment?

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