Friday, May 16, 2008

'MySpace Suicide' Prosecution, Law, and the Web: Be Careful What You Ask For

Earlier today, I wrote about what seemed a satisfactory development in the case of Megan Meier, a thirteen-year-old Missouri girl who was hounded to death "allegedly" by the mother of a former friend. (Details in " 'MySpace Suicide,' and the Law" (May 16, 2008).)

Now there's a new concern. The approach taken by prosecutors may wind up defining what we're told is routine online behavior as illegal - and give TOS the power of law.

Many people want justice for the death of Megan Meier, but "be careful what you wish for:" This could get interesting.

"Routine conduct at risk with MySpace suicide case"
WFED (May 16, 2008)

"Think twice before you sign up for an online service using a fake name or e-mail address. You could be committing a federal crime.

"Federal prosecutors turned to a novel interpretation of computer hacking law to indict a Missouri mother on charges connected to the suicide of a 13-year-old MySpace user.

"Prosecutors alleged that by helping create a MySpace account in the name of someone who didn't exist, Lori Drew, 49, violated the News Corp.-owned site's terms of service and thus illegally accessed protected computers.

"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. ..."


Brigid said...

The link to the article takes us back to the top of your blog page. Might want to check that.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...


Thanks for catching that, Brigid.

The link is fixed, now.

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