federal grand jury indicted 49-year-old Lori Drew of Missouri last Thursday,
for allegedly masterminding an online hoax that ended with the suicide of her
FBI investigators, working in a joint effort between branches
in Los Angeles and St. Louis, accused Drew of masquerading as 16-year-old “Josh
Evans” to befriend Meiers on MySpace in October of 2006, touching
off a close friendship with the with the emotionally-vulnerable girl via the
fake account. News reports indicate that Drew intended to gain insight into
Meier’s thoughts on her daughter, after the two had an earlier falling out. When
the relationship turned sour, however, Meiers was found to have hanged herself,
due to a series of messages that included comments that the world would be
better off without her.
Drew now faces four charges: one for conspiracy, and three
for accessing protected computers without authorization, and each charge is
punishable by up to five years in prison. Drew says that she didn’t create the
Josh Evans account, and that she never used it to send messages to Meiers.
The case represents the first time that federal laws on unauthorized
computer access were invoked in a social-networking case, as previously they only
saw use in cases against hackers. Given the lack of federal laws against
cyberbullying – a
fact that state officials cited when they refused to press charges despite
considerable pressure – FBI investigators chose to prosecute Drew’s alleged
violation of MySpace’s Terms of Service (TOS), which prohibits registrants
from, among other things, providing false information about themselves, and using
MySpace to harass, harm, or solicit information from other people – especially minors.
experts fear a potentially dangerous shift in precedent, as the successful
prosecution of Drew would allow authorities to press criminal charges for
violating a site’s TOS, which many web surfers do on a regular basis:
criminal matters – when [they] 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,” said University of Pennsylvania law professor Andrea
Matwyshyn. “I think you're going to have strong disagreement as to whether this
is an advisable course to take.”
Jennifer Granick, who works as the civil liberties director
for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, thinks such a prosecution would be
far-reaching: “Theoretically, it applies to any use of a service in violation
of the terms of service,” she says.
For example, if a website prohibits users from making
negative comments about its owner, are users who choose to disregard this rule in
violation of criminal law? When a user links a webpage that prohibits linking
in its terms of service, are they subject to criminal prosecution?
Existing law does not provide an immediate solution, says
Granick; rather, prosecutors are acting on outside pressure and the case’s
If given the option to litigate, Granick told Wired’s Threat Level that she would be
more than willing to fight on Drew’s behalf: “I think there is such an extreme
reading here, and I do think it's dangerously flawed for other cases. I think
it's scary and it's wrong and something should be done about it.”
For now, authorities scheduled Drew for arraignment in St.
Louis, after which they will deport her to Los Angeles – MySpace’s headquarters
and the location of its main server farm – for trial.
quote: Now if the bully hits you and you hit them back does that follow the self defense or what if he claims you are the bully first?
quote: (Just kidding, Canada is far too clean to be in the US.)
quote: Your ideas are terribly wrong. There's nothing to "behold" about a child that was not properly disciplined and causes disruption, usually assault, and interferes with the core reason every other child is in school. Children need a certain minimal level of security to focus instead of worrying about some bully.
quote: I have to say your idea about bully vs bully is just some overidealized nonsense.
quote: Yes we do need more parents "encouraging" though that's not the right word. The solution is fairly clear, the bully is suspended from school, eventually expelled if it doesn't change. The parent is investigated if they aren't taking measures to resolve their child's behavior and ultimately through enough punishment of all parties not being responsbile there will be placement in the right facilities to remove those who won't change from the rest of society.
quote: Plus, remember that that bully is also maladjusted enough that there needs to be intervention for his/her own sake so that they learn to integrate and coexist with the rest of society for a brighter and happier future.
quote: The bully is nothing but an opportunist. Your boss is the bully now. Your college professor is the bully now. The guy at the oil change place that sits on your car for an extra 20 minutes just because he knows you won't do anything about it is the bully now. Bullies are nothing but a societal reflection.
quote: Aren't all children idealist ?
quote: And you call me an idealist ? How much money and effort have we already wasted with your nanny state policies.
quote: Meanwhile not ONE DAMN problem in our society has been fixed by YOUR over idealist concepts. People like you are a threat to the rest of us and frankly scare us.
quote: Investigate parents of bullies ? Are you joking ?
quote: None of these examples would change the bully at all. You are simply taking the bully out of one envirnment and putting him in another. But hey, lets just push him off on someone else. That will work, but for how long ?
quote: Its no wonder our young males are so confused and go so wrong these days. The effort to emasculate our children for perfectly natural and traditional behaviors that have been just fine for hundreds of years is doing NOTHING to benefit anyone.
quote: Now, thanks to thickheaded idealist like you, we're criminalizing children for no good reason. Congratulations!
quote: Again, your applying adult concepts to children. I don't know about you, but when I was a kid I didn't dedicate a whole lot of time thinking about how to " intergrate and coexist with society for a happier and brighter future ". Again, are you even listening to yourself ?
quote: In my opinion the bully is far more adjusted than you give him credit for. Respect is earned. Life is what you make it. Your success often means someone else must suffer. Thank GOD I was bullied as a child and learned how to overcome it, with the only thing in this world that institutes change, force. Or else I might have grown up like a sheltered pacifist like you looking for someone else ( school, parents, governement etc etc ) to solve all my problems.
quote: Within a 10 minutes of fighting I broke all their arms but the school police arrested me.
quote: but one time a group of black and hispanic punks thought picking on a small asian guy was fun.
quote: I wonder how everything would have turned out if you had not taken the courses.
quote: You must have some sort of stereotype in the back of your mind that provoked you to show them a lesson instead of making a rational decision.
quote: Sounds to me like he would of gotten beat half to death by a gang of minorities.
quote: the " rational " decision would have been to stand there and get beaten up. Or look like a moron and try to talk down 10 people
quote: Why do you have to throw the "minorities" in there? What difference is the race, whether it be blacks, whites, or asians, he was jumped by a group of people who were most likely males. Them being "minorities" means nothing, that word is foolish anyways.
quote: Simply put, he should have ran. If he really wanted to avoid conflict he would have did just that by running.
quote: I used a discriptive noun !! I'm so freaking sorry Captain Politically Correct !! Clearly I'm racist !
quote: So just because hes a small Asian kid he can outrun TEN other people trying to hurt him like a Jackie Chan movie !?? You disgust me !!!!
quote: But seriously, you can't run from ten people. At least, not very far.
quote: And why should he have to "avoid conflict" again ? If you avoid conflict as a child you will be avoiding conflict all your life. Translation : letting people walk all over you.
quote: That, my friend, is very true. The internet is a cruel place. However, whenever I get modded down, I would think it is for my own good.
quote: As far as I'm conserned this is very similar to someone being charged with manslaughter (or worse) for pulling a fire alram resulting in the trampling deaths of people in the building.
quote: That way in the future the general public will know with out any question that this behaviour is infact criminal behaviour and that you will be prosecuted.
quote: There's a difference between kids being mean to kids and adults being mean to adults and adults pyschologically abusing and manipulating childern.
quote: I'm sorry you're just going to have to get off this kick that the internet white washes everything.... If I set it up that I use the internet to remotely detinate a bomb and kill hundreds of people it's not "ok" because "I used the internet".
quote: In this case, when the parents found out that the attacks were actually orchastrated by a neighboring parent they very rightly so saught criminal charges, and I think it's tradgic that there is no good way to prosecute this particular case.
quote: No, but her actions did in fact directly lead her to put that noose around her neck. This woman was in fact also taking specific action to hurt this girl and esentually emotionally destroy her. Her lack of understanding of the possibile ramifications of emotionally destroying an indiviaul do not excuse her from the terrible consequences of her actions.
quote: I'm sorry, but just being on the internet doesn't make this legal. This is a crime and it should be treated as such. I'm glad the FBI is making an effort but I just wish they'd come up with a better basic premis for the prosecution.
quote: So according to you psychological abuse doesn't exists? Get real buddy.
quote: The more you post the more clear it becomes you don't have any idea what actually happend and don't have any intention to find out.
quote: Its safe to say she had 'romantic' conversations with her to get in this poor girls mind which eventually caused her to commit suicide,
quote: The 13yr old probably put her entire heart into the hoax and when she found it to be too much to handle, she did not know how to handle it.
quote: In this case it was an ADULT who has a child of their own who manipulated this young girl in such a way to destroy her life. BIG HUGE HONKING DIFFERENCE!!!
quote: You're conviniently trying to ignore the fact that this girl was manipulated by this adult.
quote: "you know what, I really can't see why you would think someone would like a fat ass like you"...
quote: This is wrong, in fact this is criminal.
quote: Over the internet. Legal.
quote: Man thats not even that good. Killed herself over this middle school trolling material ?
quote: No its not. And this woman will not see a single day in jail. The FBI cannon enforce a websites TOS like it broke some federal law. The TOS is a non binding civil contract. If you can't see this is one big fishing expedition to manufacture a way to prosecute this woman than your blind.
quote: I suppose someone needs to inform the federal government that they need to release spammers, internet casino operators that directly stole moeny from their unsuspecting customers and botnet operators from jail because "they did it over the internet, it's legal".
quote: An adult purposfully made sure this young lady developed a deep emotional bond with a fictional boy to find out if thsi girl was talking behind her daughters back. When she was done she decided with the greatest sense of malice in her heart to tear down this young lady, considering the emotional bond that was developed this was easy to do.
quote: Wow... Ok yeah thanks for confirming what I've been thinking this whole time.. You really are just as ass... Conversation done.
quote: Granted a person with a stable amount of self-esteem can simply tell someone that commands them to kill themselves where to go.
quote: Should Lori Drew be held accountable for indirectly manipulating Megan Meier based on her severe depression and anxiety painting a big-ass bullseye on her psyche?
quote: should she be held accountable for her actions based solely on the intent of harm?
quote: Lets also look at previous "abuses" of myspace. I know people who have made myspace pages for pets. I also know people have let other people login to their accounts. Did those pets give them permission to create those accounts? I doubt it so it's "fraudulent."
quote: This woman did not approch the young lady in person and say these things
quote: why don't you guys actually try finding out what happend, how this developed and all those other small little details.
quote: Legal experts warned Friday that such an interpretation could criminalize routine behavior on the Internet. After all, people regularly create accounts or post information under aliases for many legitimate reasons, including parody, spam avoidance and a desire to maintain their anonymity or privacy online or that of a child.This new interpretation also gives a business contract the force of a law: Violations of a Web site's user agreement could now lead to criminal sanction, not just civil lawsuits or ejection from a site."I think the danger of applying a statute in this way is that it could have unintended consequences," said John Palfrey, a Harvard law professor who leads a MySpace-convened task force on Internet safety."An application of a general statute like this might result in chilling a great deal of online speech and other freedom."
quote: Is this site still about Tech news?