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MySpace Suicide Charges Threaten Free Speech

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the then-we-are-all-criminals dept.

The Courts 687

Naturalist recommends a piece up at Ars about a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the EFF, CDT, Public Citizen, and a group of 14 law professors in the case of Lori Drew, who posed as a teenage boy to harass another teen online, eventually driving her to suicide. (We've discussed the case a few times.) "[The amicus brief argues] that violating MySpace's Terms of Service agreement shouldn't be considered criminal offense under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The groups believe that if the mother, Lori Drew, is prosecuted using CFAA charges, the case could have significant ramifications for the free speech rights of US citizens using the Internet."

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Die Emo Die (0, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489651)

The accused should be getting a medal not a trial.

Re:Die Emo Die (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24489767)

"Oh my gosh I can't believe you said that I am so offended I'm going to cry you ought to be ashamed!"

Was that the response you were hoping for? You're going to have to try harder if so. I mean, the only thing lamer than a troll is a troll who can't even do it right.

Re:Die Emo Die (-1, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489783)

Someone who kills themselves over an "internet boyfriend" hating on them is better off dead.

Fucking whimpy generation of losers.

Re:Die Emo Die (0)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489869)

Yeah, because it's obvious YOU aren't subject to any youth oriented angst. /sarcasm

Re:Die Emo Die (5, Insightful)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490103)

This is Slashdot. I bet 90% of us here would have come into contact with bullying or emotional harassment. Sure we've gotten our own back, but when you're a kid things are different. While I think the OP is being a little insensitive, I don't think you can draw a line from "Internet boyfriend acting like a dickhead" to "Ok I'm going to commit suicide".

Suicide is not a natural response to bullying, especially when that's not even face-to-face, which is what we experienced. If it was, most of us wouldn't be here. Either the girl had other problems which lead to her suicide (likely) or she was simply mentally unstable. In either of those cases the medium through which the straw that broke the camels back travelled is not relevant.

Re:Die Emo Die (4, Interesting)

el americano (799629) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490415)

Even if this adult perpetrator knew she was unstable? You must've had it rough. I didn't have any adult bullies in high school, just the stupid jock types my own age.

However, if violating the TOS is the only charge, as the summary suggests, then I reluctantly think she should be let off.

Re:Die Emo Die (-1, Flamebait)

philspear (1142299) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489875)

See, it's still painfully obvious you're trying to troll. You even got the funny mod, not a flamebait. No one is going to fall for that. That's just amature shit. You're coming on too strong. Talk about survival of the fittest and refrain from the petty names and someone would have believed you honestly thought that and you could have gotten a string of angry responses. As such you just have me criticizing your technique.

Re:Die Emo Die (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490187)

Okay, I may have called that one early, you got some responses from people who are taking you seriously. You win. Never again will I overestimate people on the internet.

Re:Die Emo Die (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24489947)

Fucking whimpy generation of losers.

Yeah, that emo thing really needs to die.

'Oh wah, my middle-upper middle class lifestyle, complete parents who care, a nice house in a decent neighborhood, and a decent amount of material wealth is just so horrible. People hate me just for no reason, not because I whine nonstop about nonexistent problems I saw on TV. Oh, woe is me!'

These self-centered assholes really need to get over themselves and get a life.

Re:Die Emo Die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24490015)

Excellent idea! Now why don't do like what Mr. Hands did and earn yourself a different kind of award, a Darwin Award.

did you see what they did? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24489733)

fags eat the shit out of other faggots asses. why do you want that in your community? fucking filthy faggots.

Bad precedent... (5, Insightful)

nebaz (453974) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489759)

The facts in this particular case point to a truly twisted individual, but this individual is unable to be prosecuted for major jail time under current, non "novel" interpretations of law. The proper thing to do is to note this case, and realize the perpetrator is not guilty of a felony, and create a new law to handle this case, rather than trying to find some way to twist the law to put this person in jail "for something", which will open the floodgates of abuses.

Re:Bad precedent... (5, Interesting)

Skadet (528657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489823)

create a new law to handle this case

I assume by "case" you mean "behavior".

What kind of behavior are you considering outlawing here? Being a dick? You want to outlaw being a dick on the internet?

HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAHHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAAHA

Re:Bad precedent... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24490011)

I, for one, have to been able to get /b/ to load all day.

So maybe they already have.

Re:Bad precedent... (4, Informative)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490373)

What kind of behavior are you considering outlawing here? Being a dick? You want to outlaw being a dick on the internet?

I can't speak for OP, but the behaviour we might want to look at is not simply being a dick, but conducting a calculated and sustained campaign of harrassment intended, with malice. to inflict serious physical &/or psychological damage on a specific individual. We might even want to extend it to a class of individuals to account for 'behaviours' such as planting epilepsy inducing graphics on epilepsy support boards and the like.

I agree with OP, that twisting an existing law for fear that this woman might get away with what she has done, when clearly she should not, is not an acceptable solution.

Re:Bad precedent... (1)

Skadet (528657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490421)

conducting a calculated and sustained campaign of harrassment intended, with malice.

There's already a mechanism for dealing with this, it's called a restraining order.

She'll win the trial.. (3, Funny)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489855)

That idiot will win her trial, and get away almost scot-free. Which sucks.

I'm sure she'll never get a real job ever again, though. In a job interview, question 2 will be "Wait... you're THE Lori Drew? That psycho-bitch?"

Re:She'll win the trial.. (2, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490001)

I doubt anybody will remember her name. I've heard about the case many times before, and couldn't recall the name of the accused. If you ask me tomorrow, I will probably have forgotten the name again by them. Sure I could just Google every potential person I plan to hire. But a lot of employers don't do that.

Re:She'll win the trial.. (1)

NeoRete (628054) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490381)

It really doesn't matter if her name wouldn't be well-known. It only takes being recognized by ONE individual before word starts to spread to the rest of her community/office, and then like wildfire. Guess what happens next?

Re:Bad precedent... (4, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490039)

While I think this is a sad story, and I feel for all involved, I simply cannot agree that a new law should be made to handle this case and charge the mother. Yes - she did a horrible thing. Yes - it is likely a cause that pushed the teen over the edge. No - it could not have in any stretch of imagination been the one sole contributing factor to the death. A straw on the camels back? Perhaps. But I think that anyone can clearly see the failure of logic in charging someone for a felony for placing a straw on the camels back, when there is in fact a bulging load there already.

Speaking from personal experience, you don't get that depressed from a single person posting on a website/sending emails. You don't go from being a happy-go-lucky normal individual to a suicidal person overnight, over a month or likely even over a year. I started being depressed often from the age of about ten or eleven. I had a suicide attempt when I was twenty three. I do not blame anyone directly. I was in a bad place, and in retrospect the problem lay totally with ME. Why can't people learn to look at their own issues before pointing fingers and pushing blame to everyone else so quickly?

Re:Bad precedent... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490231)

Did you read about the Greyhound bus killer [theglobeandmail.com] ? Seems that in certain cases people can go from zero to crazy in 4.6 seconds. Not all the details are out yet, but it seems like the accused in the greyhound case went from normal to cannibalistic killer in a matter of a few days. No word if there was even a trigger yet which caused him to snap.

Re:Bad precedent... (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490379)

Why can't people learn to look at their own issues before pointing fingers and pushing blame to everyone else so quickly?

When you do that there's no opportunity for a media circus, so people who would set good examples are never heard.

Re:Bad precedent... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490405)

Take someone with a weak heart, strap them in a roller coaster and they might die right there and then. Take someone emotionally unstable, strap them in an emotional roller coaster and them might die right there and then. I think you grossly underestimate how many that "spontaniously" become suicidal over something like getting dumped, particularly if this was made to be cruel and humiliating. This sounded like more than a random little straw that made her snap, I'd say anything from harassment to potentially murder if she'd known how bad her condition was.

Re:Bad precedent... (3, Interesting)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490049)

Obtaining access by fraud is a felony. She lied to get access, therefore she obtained access by fraud. Therefore she committed a felony, QED.

Re:Bad precedent... (5, Interesting)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490121)

Next time I fill in a fake name or address signing up on a web site I should be charged with a felony?

Re:Bad precedent... (2, Insightful)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490209)

Not necessarily; doing so requires an effort entirely disproportionate with the consequences of the fraud you committed. The State shouldn't prosecute you because there's no reason to- you didn't get anything out of it and neither will the State.

In this case, however, that's not true. This is where prosecutor's discretion does come into play.

Re:Bad precedent... (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490227)

Does the Terms of Service say you must provide a real name and valid address? If so, they yes.

Now, why would you be signing up to a website you don't feel safe giving a valid name and address to?

Re:Bad precedent... (1, Interesting)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490401)

Why is it a criminal matter and not a civil one? There's not even theft committed in this case.

Why wouldn't you provide a real name? You have no idea who has access to your information; a hacker or rogue employee, for instance, can use the information to harass you or whatever. Not only that, but phishing sites exist and there's always the remote possibility of DNS poisoning.

Hell, I've been harassed over people calling my house thanks to being forced to provide that information publicly when registering a domain name. That's not fun.

Why should it be any more of a felony to lie to myspace than to lie to someone on the street over what my name is?

Re:Bad precedent... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490237)

It isn't abundantly clear that actions would meet the legal definition of fraud.

Re:Bad precedent... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490267)

*her* actions.

Urg.

Re:Bad precedent... (1)

nebaz (453974) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490127)

I meant to say create a new law to handle future cases, and just let this one go. New laws can not be retroactively applied.

Ex Post Facto (1)

RossumsChild (941873) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490291)

Maybe you've heard of it?

If not, that's ok, the Constitution has a nice primer [wikipedia.org] .

In short: They are terrible, and they shall not, under any circumstances, be allowed.

Just because she used the Internet . . . (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24489761)

Does not mean she has to be charged with 'cyber' crimes that can fuck the rest of us.

Get her for some form of child abuse or something, DON'T try to take MY rights away just because of some twat got bored with her soap operas.

So (3, Interesting)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489763)

Would it be as big a deal if someone did this through the mail? I don't see why new technology also needs new laws, so I would hope there would be no legal precedent set for computer specific harassment.

Re:So (3, Insightful)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489813)

You're not likely to have an ongoing conversation with a fictitious person through the mail to the point that you think of them as your boyfriend.

The nature of the internet does make kinds of assholish behavior possible that were previously impractical.

Re:So (1)

Skadet (528657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489849)

The nature of the internet does make kinds of assholish behavior possible that were previously impractical.

impractical != impossible

Tell me, what IS the punishment for the assholish behaviour when the medium is snail-mail?

Wait... wait, you're saying that there's a punishment for being an asshole?

Re:So (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490365)

It is also possible that all the air in your room will gather up in a corner. It is not probable or practical, but it is possible.

Re:So (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490391)

No, primarily because it IS snail mail. It is unlikely that the girl would have reacted in the same way to a series of missives drawn out over weeks at a time.

This isn't about free speech (5, Insightful)

bagboy (630125) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489785)

in my opinion. You do not have the right to torment an individual like this anymore than you have a right to yell "Fire" in a crowded theater or "I have a bomb" in an airport. AT some point, the safety of others does override your right to "free" speech.

Re:This isn't about free speech (-1, Flamebait)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489877)

There was no tormenting. It was a classic case of trolling. She pretended to be a boy who liked her, girl fell in love with her e-boyfriend, e-boyfriend then called her a slut and this that and the other thing, and the girl, who was mad fucked in the head and should have been receiving help went and offed herself. It sucks someone died, but there was nothing tormenting or cruel about what happened.

Re:This isn't about free speech (5, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489969)

What type of sick world do you live in where befriending someone you know is emotionally vulnerable for the express purpose of degrading and humiliating them does not classify as tormenting or cruel?

If you seriously see this as normal or even slightly acceptable behavior I have to strongly question your societal values and the people you associate with.

Re:This isn't about free speech (1, Troll)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489991)

Its the god damn internet.

Re:This isn't about free speech (3, Insightful)

paroneayea (642895) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490075)

Yeah, it's the god damned internet. That doesn't mean that people don't have emotions on the internet.

I'm actually against marking this as a criminal offense, also for free speech reasons, but seriously. The very idea that she wasn't tormenting that girl is total BS. You can torment someone in person, you can torment them on the phone, you can torment them over IM or on IRC or whatever. The internet does not grant magical anti-emotion powers.

Re:This isn't about free speech (-1, Troll)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490113)

This almost falls under my personal definition of torment as the woman did seek the girl out (if she hadnt and the girl had just found this fake boy online i would classify it as forthelulz and absolutely hilarious) with the intent to fuck with her, but that's the glory of the internet. You can fuck with anyone you want to (verbally, or would it be textually?) and pretend to be whoever you want, whatever you want, believe whatever you want, and just run with it. I personally have alts on numerous forums that I use for the sole purpose of trolling and inciting riots amongst the general opinion of the masses on numerous issues. It's FUN. It's the mother fucking internet, and if you take it seriously that's your own fault.

Re:This isn't about free speech (3, Insightful)

paroneayea (642895) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490205)

What I think you're missing is the difference between "I can do something" and "I should do something".

This almost falls under my personal definition of torment as the woman did seek the girl out (if she hadnt and the girl had just found this fake boy online i would classify it as forthelulz and absolutely hilarious) with the intent to fuck with her, but that's the glory of the internet. You can fuck with anyone you want to (verbally, or would it be textually?) and pretend to be whoever you want, whatever you want, believe whatever you want, and just run with it.

Are you saying the reason it isn't torment is because the tormentor is anonymous? That doesn't seem logical definition of torment to me.

Re:This isn't about free speech (0, Troll)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490257)

The fact that it was done entirely through text communications, this girl never actually met her eboyfriend, but was so distraught by him turning on her that she /wrists? I have sympathy over her being dead, but not the reason for it happening.

Re:This isn't about free speech (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490425)

In the second case, the person could not have gotten any feedback other than the girl's posts on the net. The woman on the other hand, was able to gauge things just right through her daughter's interactions with the suicidal one.

The new Las Vegas (5, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490413)

The internet does not grant magical anti-emotion powers.

Of course it does. What happens on the Internet stays on the Internet.

Re:This isn't about free speech (5, Funny)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490087)

Its the god damn internet.

"It's"

Re:This isn't about free speech (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490285)

Yes and the internet shows the power of the written word.
Those fraudulent emails are just words, doesn't mean that scamming online should be protected speech.

Re:This isn't about free speech (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490139)

Being mean or harsh shouldn't be illegal. I know the whole "social responsibility" and "unity" thing is all the craze now, but let's not go making every single "undesirable" behavior illegal, hmmm?

Re:This isn't about free speech (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489981)

It sucks someone died, but there was nothing tormenting or cruel about what happened.

I'd like to know how you define tormenting and cruel if that isn't it.

Re:This isn't about free speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24490105)

I've never meta troll I liked.

Re:This isn't about free speech (1)

Chris Burkhardt (613953) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490241)

I once met a meta troll I liked.

Re:This isn't about free speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24490219)

the girl, who was mad fucked in the head

The woman knew the girl was mad fucked in the head. If I drop a piano off the roof and it lands on your head, it's only an accident if I wasn't watching and waiting.

It's still not "computer abuse"

Re:This isn't about free speech (5, Insightful)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490309)

It was a classic case of trolling.

Shitcock is trolling.

Posting photoshopped pictures of Obama with a crackpipe between his lips is trolling.

Creating a persona as a Born-Again Christian and attempting to "save" people in atheist forums is trolling.

She pretended to be a boy who liked her, girl fell in love with her e-boyfriend, e-boyfriend then called her a slut and this that and the other thing, and the girl, who was mad fucked in the head and should have been receiving help went and offed herself.

That isn't trolling. That's a pure mindfuck and should be treated as such.

mad fucked in the head

I didn't realize the hoodrats knew about /.

It sucks someone died

No, it doesn't. Coming home from the grocery store and discovering half your eggs are cracked sucks. Having to bury your teenage daughter because of the actions of a sadistic sack of shit - that knew she had mental problems and exploited them - is a tragedy and a crime.

but there was nothing tormenting or cruel about what happened.

Dude. You need help.

But it IS about the law... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24489923)

> You do not have the right to torment an individual like this anymore than you have a right to yell "Fire" in a crowded theater or "I have a bomb" in an airport. AT some point, the safety of others does override your right to "free" speech.

Sure, but the problem is that there's no law for it yet, so they're making one up that WILL threaten free speech.

That's the problem. I have no problem with sending her to jail for making someone's life hell. I do have a problem with abusing the law to do that.

Re:But it IS about the law... (4, Informative)

antirelic (1030688) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490051)

There are plenty of laws that prohibit harassment. Here is an experiment you can try right in your own town/city. Go down town. Find some old lady walking down the road, and follow behind her calling out "fucking hag", "stupid bitch", "go die", as loud and as often as you find it within your power of free speech. No do this for most of the day, randomly switching out people (try to find the most pathetic persion you can, elderly, children, invalids, etc..) You'll quickly learn that there are plenty of laws that prohibit this type of behavior.

Besides, have you even bothered typing "harassment laws"?

Re:This isn't about free speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24490003)

I couldnt agree more except I would take it one step further and say your right to free speech ends when you make me feel bad or inconvenience me in anyway.

Re:This isn't about free speech (1)

ribit (952003) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490069)

Of course the safety of others can override your right to free speech, but the problem here is they seem to be trying to criminalize the thing that isn't intrinsically dangerous (with negative effects for free speech), rather than actually dealing with the real problem, the actions of a person that may have been damaging.

Re:This isn't about free speech (2, Insightful)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490115)

If I tell you to jump out of building will you jump? Who is guilty if you decide to jump?

Re:This isn't about free speech (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490419)

If I tell you to jump out of building will you jump? Who is guilty if you decide to jump?

Depends on how you ask and the circumstances.
Some ways where such an act could be considered abusive - Clear social control (parent telling child), threatening them (pointing a gun), while they are under the influence of drugs/alcohol (usually a party killer), mentally unable to understand the situation (retardation/emotional problems), or deceiving them (telling them you're only 1 floor up).

Re:This isn't about free speech (1)

xigxag (167441) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490271)

Your examples don't compare to what happened here.

First of all, if I yell "fire" in a crowded theater, the results are predictable. There will be a panic and some people will suffer physical injury. Any reasonable person can see that. Second, some of the people who get hurt may be innocent, trampled by others due to events entirely outside of their control.

In this case, one could not have necessarily predicted that Lori Drew's torments would result in the girl's suicide. Nor was the girl completely innocent in that she bore responsibility for failing to end the relationship, not to mention that she was the one who actually committed the act.

But even so, if we're going to nevertheless say that this was murder or some form of homicide, why do we need to specially invoke the internet? If I kill someone with a toothpick, does my crime have to be prosecuted under "death by toothpick" statute? How about wrenchicular homicide, CD jewel case murder laws, death by telephonic intimidation, etc. If we needed to make a special case for every form of homicide, we'd lose any semblance of universality in our laws. Each one would have to be some kind of post hoc creation. I don't think that's necessary. If this is a crime, normal laws, without contortion, ought to be able to deal with it.

Finally, even if Drew walks on the crimes, the girl's surviving relatives will undoubtedly try to sue for harrassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful death. I don't see this as a scot-free situation, not by any means.

Re:This isn't about free speech (3, Informative)

Virak (897071) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490303)

Their argument is that by breaking MySpace's TOS she is gaining unauthorized access to the site (i.e., hacking it), and can be charged for that. If you don't see why this is a very bad thing, and can't be bothered to RTFA, I'll quote the relevant bits for you:

The EFF says that a MySpace user doesn't gain unauthorized access to MySpace's servers by disregarding the ToS, which is what the DoJ's reading of the CFAA would criminalize. Additionally, the groups argue that the legislative history of the CFAA supports the view that it's meant to prevent trespass and theft on computers or computer networks, not improper motives or use. The EFF and CDT believe that holding Drew criminally liable for violating MySpace's ToS would be an "extraordinary and dangerous extension of federal criminal law," as it would turn practically everyone into federal criminals.

They point out that even checking out the popular dating site Match.com for the mere purpose of research into this case would have turned the brief's author into a criminal, as she is married and the ToS prohibits those who are not single or separated from using the site. "[T]he Government's theory would attach criminal penalties to minors under the age of 18 who use the Google search engine, as well as to many individuals who legitimately exercise their First Amendment rights to speak anonymously online," adds the brief. Although the groups agree that Meier's death was a tragedy and that there is a heavy desire to hold Drew accountable for her actions, they believe the First Amendment rights of citizens outweigh the "overbroad" interpretation of the CFAA in order to prosecute her, and urge the court to dismiss the indictment.

lolwut (0, Troll)

Skadet (528657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489793)

The case against a mother who posed as a teenage boy to harass another teen online, in the process driving her to suicide

This is so eff'd in the A I don't even know where to start. If someone harasses you IRL, who do you blame? The... air that carried their words to your ears? Far be it from me to seem like a d-bag in the face of a teenage suicide, but blaming someone else for it is completely and utterly retarded.

It's high-damn-time we look parents straight in their pie-stuffed me-first faces and say "Take some goddamn responsibility." If your child -- YOUR CHILD -- was depressed enough to commit suicide, how could you not know?

Oh, that's right, you were too busy watching Dancing With the Stars and reruns of Monk to pay attention. GG, parents, the blood is on your hands.

Hold on a second... (4, Insightful)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489883)

You clearly don't have kids - most teenagers these days won't let their parents into their life. Not because the parents are bad, but because society (advertising?) encourages teenagers to be self-sufficient and live their own life.

Sometimes, all the parents can do is be supportive and listen when their kid doesn't want to talk. If the kid won't talk to his/her parents... what did you want the parents to do? Tie them up and force them to speak?

Anyways, my point is that Good Parents don't always have good kids. And parents (unfortunately) can't always get their kids to open up and talk to them.

I guess your mom would kick you out of her basement if you were rebellious, so I can't expect you to understand.

Re:Hold on a second... (1)

Ferzerp (83619) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489995)

Did you just blame a child's behavior on the media and society?

Wow. Hi Jack.

Re:Hold on a second... (2, Interesting)

Skadet (528657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490043)

Anyways, my point is that Good Parents don't always have good kids

This is a nature-vs-nurture argument; you clearly fall on the side of nature. We could fill an entire /. thread with arguments on this one, so I'll just respectfully disagree with you on this one and leave it at that (my belief: 80% nurture).

most teenagers these days won't let their parents into their life.

From my experience as a teenager -- not THAT long ago -- and experience with my younger brother's circle, I don't find this to be the norm. That argument aside, you don't have to be privy to every ounce of your teenager's life to know when something is up. Let me flip your statement back on to you as a question: do you have kids or are you around teenagers at all? Coming home from college to visit my family when my brother was firmly in middle of adolescence made one thing extremely clear: you might know the day-to-days, but you absolutely do know the mood. I don't know that anyone can argue that point with honesty.

I guess your mom would kick you out of her basement if you were rebellious, so I can't expect you to understand.

0/10 troll (a mom's basement joke? that's really the best you could do?) -- BUT, I will say this: I *was* rebellious, pretty hardcore in my teens. My parents made unending attempts to stay involved -- even when I didn't want them there and would say so as callously as possible. Bottom line, they just loved me. When they knew they wouldn't penetrate what was in my "deep, tortured" teenage mind (lol), they just loved on me. And I'd say I turned out alright.

Re:Hold on a second... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490341)

Read "The Blank Slate" by Stephen Pinker and "The Nurture Assumption" by Judith Rich Harris. They make an excellent case for it being a mix of nature and environment (i.e., your peers growing up are at least as important as your parents; think about the language and accents of transplanted children) rather than nature and nurture.

To some extent, the difference between nurture and environment is quibbling, but nurture is pretty loaded at this point.

Re:Hold on a second... (3, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490135)

If the kid won't talk to his/her parents... what did you want the parents to do? Tie them up and force them to speak?

Yeah, that wouldn't be bad.

When I was a teenager I was like this. (Not the suicidal bit, just the part where I didn't want to talk to my parents.) I think it would have been really good for me if they had sat down and really forced me to discuss things. I kept a lot of stuff to myself, and it wasn't healthy. I made some errors in high school and in my first year of college that I regret, and I wish somebody with more sense would have been aware enough of what was going on to talk to me, tell me how dumb I was being in a supportive manner, and set me straight. But my parents respected my wish to be left alone and as such I ended up on my own when I didn't really want to be.

Now, I turned out alright, and I don't hold this against my parents. But yeah, if your teens don't want to talk, force 'em. Make a habit out of sitting down with them and prying information out. Find out what's going on in their lives. If they don't like it, tough. A teenager may think he's an adult, may try to act like an adult, may go out and do adult things, but ultimately he's still a child (at least an the lower end of the range, like this girl was). And you're still that child's parents. You're not their friend, not their roommate. You're not doing them a favor by leaving them alone or respecting their wishes not to talk.

Far too many teenagers end up in an adversarial situation with their parents. And I think the cause is, paradoxically, because parents try to be too friendly with their children. Far too often, when a daughter hits the teen years her mother says, woo, now we can go out and do fun girly stuff together! The same thing with sons and fathers, except not girly. Parenting needs to be based on respect and authority, not friendship. Children usually already have friends, they don't need two more. What they don't have are role models, authority figures, and people who can give sound advice from a perspective of older age.

The most screwed up young adults I know are those whose parents tried to be friends with them. Conversely, the most well adjusted young adults I know are those whose parents stayed in the role as a parent. They weren't mean or cruel or overbearing, but they raised their kids instead of befriending them.

Re:lolwut (2, Interesting)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489931)

Firstly, I utterly disagree with your simplified and clearly exceptionally incorrect assumptions. You are only making yourself look uninformed.

If your child -- YOUR CHILD -- was depressed enough to commit suicide, how could you not know?

Most people who are severely depressed actually hide their feelings from others, which includes not letting people know they are suicidal. Have a quick read of things like Black Dog Institute [blackdoginstitute.org.au] to catch up to the rest of the world.

Secondly, I do in fact totally agree that the original case is bogus - which I assume is what you mean by your comments here. BUT I do once again need to point out here that this article is in fact about a case arguing that posing as someone who you aren't should not be a criminal offense. This article is NOT about the actual courtcase against the mother who drove the teen to suicide.
While I am not condoning tormenting someone like this, I don't believe that it could in fact be a murder trial from it. I feel very sorry for the teen that was in this, and I think that the mother has acted in a horrible way, but not in the same way as someone who picks up a knife/gun/whatever and stabs/shoots/whatever someone else till they die.

Re:lolwut (1)

Skadet (528657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490385)

Most people who are severely depressed actually hide their feelings from others, which includes not letting people know they are suicidal. Have a quick read of things like Black Dog Institute to catch up to the rest of the world.

You assume too much -- I was in quite a deep period of depression during college; I dropped out of classes, ran up credit cards, gambled myself broke, ate myself 100lbs heaver, the whole slew of it. I refer to it as my "dark time", and I did indeed hide it the best I could from anyone who might have cared.

But I have to say, anyone who knew me before the "dark time" and saw me during.. forgive my harshness, but they would have had to have been exceptionally dense not to know that _something_ was going on.

Re:lolwut (4, Insightful)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489957)

If someone harasses you IRL, who do you blame? The... air that carried their words to your ears?

No, you blame the person who's harassing you, which is exactly what's going on in this case. Like it says in your own quote, the case is against the woman whose harassment drove this girl to suicide, not the web site she used as a medium.

Re:lolwut (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24490289)

Your tortuous logic has caused some of my brain cells to commit suicide. Please send me your contact info so the authorities can come for you.

What do you expect? (2, Insightful)

Puffy Director Pants (1242492) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489811)

Bad events make bad laws. Just read the story below this one. Though this may be more in the way of bad case law. That said, I think this woman's behavior is so beyond the pale that she deserves to be featured in a Lifetime movie at the least. And her head stuck on a pike to remind the next 5 generations that some behaviors are so reprehensible that you shouldn't do them.

Re:What do you expect? (1)

Skadet (528657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489873)

And her head stuck on a pike to remind the next 5 generations that some behaviors are so reprehensible that you shouldn't do them.

How do you characterize her behavior?

Asshole-ish? Dickish? Immature? Sociopathic?

...Can you point me to the law that makes it illegal to be a bitch? I really don't get it.

Re:What do you expect? (1)

Puffy Director Pants (1242492) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489983)

I would characterize her behavior as reprehensible to the extreme degree of meriting 5 generations of warning by displaying her head on a pike. But I said this already. I think you meant to ask a different question, which I will answer this way:

I wasn't talking about the law, just expressing my feelings on what she did. Since I'm not making a motion in court about it, I can be a little freer with my opinions than if I were say, the Prosecutor bringing charges. I'll be damned if I'm going to talk like a lawyer all day.

Re:What do you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24489927)

Bad events make bad laws. Just read the story below this one. Though this may be more in the way of bad case law.

That said, I think this woman's behavior is so beyond the pale that she deserves to be featured in a Lifetime movie at the least. And her head stuck on a pike to remind the next 5 generations that some behaviors are so reprehensible that you shouldn't do them.

I don't think we need any new bad law. I think we need law enforcement let it be known that it would basically "look the other way" or "didn't see nothin'" with regards to anything that might befall Lori Drew.

i.e. if her head were to somehow find its way onto a pike in her front yard they'd not be asking any hard questions.

Nothing tech about this case... (4, Insightful)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489853)

There should be nothing that compels this case to be brought up under ANY modern legislation pertaining computers. Computers and social networking were the means of the harassment... this does not mean there are any new concepts here.

Harassment and emotional abuse can be performed in person or over the Internet, and I've got to imagine that charges for wanton malicious actions against a minor will have much stiffer penalties than a simple ToS violation.

I don't mean to be too jaded here, but it doesn't much sense to me to be bringing an uncertain case against someone with a new law, unless the prosecuting attorney is seeking a landmark decision to put on a resume.

Certainly there must be a better choice than a new law when the actions of one lead another (esp. a minor) to suicide?

Free Speech is already limited (1)

bXTr (123510) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489917)

IANAL, but there are precedents already for having limits on free speech. For example, yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded theater when there is no fire is not considered free speech. The same principle should apply here.

Um, no. (2, Informative)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489925)

A private individual or company (they) does not have to let one exercise one's free speach right. They do not have to let someone else use my system or website to expound ideas They do not agree with. And, They have the right to condition access to same on not expounding those ideas.

That is part of freedom of speach and freedom of association.

They also have the right to condition access on being truthful. By lying to obtain access, one exceeds one's access. It is obtaining access by fraud. It just happens that obtaining access by fraud is illegal.

Civil Case (5, Insightful)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489939)

The girl's family should sue this woman in Civil Court for the wrongful death of their daughter. The burden of proof is much lower in civil court than in criminal, and they could ruin this woman for the rest of her life -- which is a hell of a lot more than she deserves, because she still gets to draw breath, but their daughter doesn't. And there daughter would still be alive today if not for this woman's depraved actions.

Re:Civil Case (0)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490239)

This woman may have been the catalyst, but the potential for suicide was already there. Should society as a whole walk around on eggshells to avoid whatever trigger will cause the already mentally unstable to go over the edge?

Let's say you honk your horn and some guy flips out and shoots himself. Now, in most places, honking your horn is illegal unless you are alerting someone to danger. So, should you then be charged to the full extent of the law?

This case is complicated and The State is trying everything to get anything to stick to this lady. Everyone wants her in jail and it's just a matter of time before they find something. Hell, at this point, they should just drop a dime bag on ger porch and send her up the river for that...

Re:Civil Case (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24490293)

OK, I'm going to call bullshit on that.

Someone that emotionally fragile would've committed suicide sooner or later. Who kills themselves because their e-boyfriend (never seen in real life or video chat) suddenly calls them names? Me, I would be pissed, not suicidal. And this is only if I don't just assume that some troll had gotten control of the account.

so short sited. (3, Interesting)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489945)

The thing about any censorship laws, especially on obscenity, is that it is up to individuals to decide what gets censored. Tub girl is obscene and "shouldn't" be shown on kids shows, but when you make laws saying you "can't" it gets into a tricky spot.

There are individuals who would say it is obscene to see white women kissing black men, and at one point in time they may have had a large enough majority to make it law if they had the legal means to invalidate the right of free speech. If you have any infringement on the right to free speech based on what is right or wrong, or inflammatory, you risk completly destroying that right and making it just a privilege.

This case has a girl that was harmed in a new way that no law exists to properly prosecute. It shows the need for new laws, not the destruction of old rights. We have protection to these rights because of these kinds of actions, If it is OK to throw out rights based on criminal offenses then it's possible to throw them out on others.

Re:so short sited. (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490107)

Fail.

This does not involve a censorship law, and has nothing to do with censorship. I suggest you buy a dictionary and learn to use it.

Ban Freedom but dont ban freedom of speech (2, Insightful)

PerZon (181675) | more than 6 years ago | (#24489961)

Teenage suicide is down lower than it has been for years. We have given teenagers the tools to reach out to other peers and express their feelings. Suicide is a real problem that has been arround long before social networks and will remain long after.
In the case of an adult posing as a young teenager to manipulate and violate the poor teenage girl, tipping her over the edge of an already uneasy situation and pushing her to suicide is murder!

Kids are mean to other kids, thats the nature of the game, if you want to stop bullying you would have to stop teenage social interaction at the playground!

My point to this rambling, Society is at fault, not the internet and not freedom of speech.

Re:Ban Freedom but dont ban freedom of speech (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490197)

So whenever someone says anything mean to me, and it makes me depressed, I have the right to sue back? Or if I incidentally kill myself over it because I"m an overly-sensitive person or I can't take criticize well at all, they should have a case?

It's a very dangerous precedent to send people to jail or otherwise censor what people can say or do because it might cause someone to hurt themselves (due to their own emotions, or whatnot). If I told someone to simply shoot themself and they went and did it, should I be responsible for that fact that they couldn't help but follow my instructions?

Not everyone is equal, or takes criticize or bullying the same way. Socially stigmatizing people is a good way to handle it, but sending people to jail for unkind words? The girl in this case that killed herself 1) was on the internet, 2) was gullible enough to fall for this kind of trolling, 3) was overly sensitive or already damaged to begin with, and 4) was old enough to know better than to give a shit.

I for one doubt that the sole reason this girl killed herself was because of the trolling, anyway. She was emotionally unstable, true, but making it illegal not to trip over the feelings of sensitive people is not a good idea either.

This time, you just gotta read the article! (5, Interesting)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490081)

The point isn't that the lady said bad things that drove a kid to suicide, or that the lady used the internet to do it. The lady should be subject to ordinary liability for that--just like any person who did the same thing on the street, or in the mail, or whatever. That's not the issue.

The issue is the terms of service agreement! That thing you click on and ignore so many times. That thing you send phony information so that the corporation doesn't get too personal on you!

If you type in phony information, (FRAUD, daddy), and then hurt somebody's feelings while on the account procured by fraud, the Federales can prosecute you for a crime. Think about the slippery slope this affords . . .

You gotta love the ingenuity of those federal prosecutors!

Re:This time, you just gotta read the article! (1)

ribit (952003) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490167)

I don't see how not filling in your profile correctly can so easily lead to a criminal offence... There's a lot of circumstances where the most you could be truly guilty of is 'not bothering to read the terms' (hardly intrinsically criminal), or of being a 13 year old saying you are 14 to use the service (again not truly a criminal action?), or someone in industry might make a test profile to do competititve analysis (again not criminal intent.. etc

Re:This time, you just gotta read the article! (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490297)

Well, what about us who just don't like people knowing who they are? It's not like I have anything to hide - I can't say I would be embarrassed or uncomfortable with anything I've attached to this name. But just like I don't walk around with my driver's license pinned to my shirt, I don't want my identity freely given to anyone with eyes - I want to give it out myself and mind who has it. Joe Schmuck doesn't need to know my name.

Just because you have nothing to hide, doesn't mean it's wrong to hide.

Freedom of Speech != Say Anything w/o Repurcussion (4, Insightful)

GuyverDH (232921) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490133)

You have the right to say anything, and be heard, however, what you say can get you into trouble.
If you don't like the war, and you protest, and make speeches that the war is bad, and that you think the president is mistaken, that's protected under the freedom of speech.
If you don't like the war, and you protest, and make threats against the president, then you will be held accountable and the threats will be taken seriously.

If you are a psychiatrist whose job it is to help people through emotional problems, and you tell your client - you're fucked up, chances are that not only will the patient not get better, but you will be sued, and if something happens to the patient, like suicide, then chances are you will be prosecuted in some form or other.

If you are a normal person, who, by using a false identity, abuses someone or their character in such a way that it erodes their self-esteem, sense of self-worth, sense of self, to such a degree that they commit suicide, then you are most definitely guilty of abuse, both mental and emotional abuse, and should be held accountable as contributing to the death of said person.

This would be the case regardless of the technology used. The only thing this technology granted was a sense of anonymity that was properly given up due to the bizarre circumstances of the case.

If you were to stand at your fence in your backyard and belittle the child-next-door, calling them names, worthless, pieces of garbage, day in and day out, chances are you'd be faced with at least a law-suit if not a visit by the police. Why would doing this over the internet be any different? Should someone who intentionally abuses another person be protected just because they used the internet to do it? Should they expect a right to privacy or anonymity just because they tried to hide their identity before making those actions? I don't think so, and would hope that you wouldn't as well.

Re:Freedom of Speech != Say Anything w/o Repurcuss (1)

ribit (952003) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490221)

I don't see how this is really relevant.. everyone participating on MySpace (hopefully) has some sense of the relative lack of certainty about who they are talking to. Its part of the service! What next, will Second Life require all personas to display their real world appearance prominently on their avatar at all times?

It's called hazing (4, Interesting)

fluffykitty1234 (1005053) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490137)

And a lot states already have laws against this...

From the Texas law:
"Any activity that intimidates or threatens the student with ostracism, that subjects the student to extreme mental stress, shame or humiliation"

I know this was intended for fraternities/sororities, but I don't see anything in the writing that limits the law to colleges.

Typical moronic prosecution (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490165)

This case amounts to good old fashioned harrasment. Just because it was done with ... OMG ... A COMPUTER ... doesn't mean that you need to drag out irrelevant laws that shouldn't apply in this situation.

Re:Typical moronic prosecution (1)

ribit (952003) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490359)

Exactly... makes me wonder if you were to draw a parallel with harassment by post.. Would sending a letter 'from a secret admirer' now be considered fraud, whatever the intent? (Failure to disclose identity OMG!!)

legitimate criminal and civil charges could apply (2, Informative)

voss (52565) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490265)

criminal charges

Child Endangerment- The suicide of the girl was a reasonably forseeable consequence...at the very least its an issue for a jury.

Then use a charge of felony child endangerment as the basis for "felony murder" charges

on the basis of
State of Minnesota vs.Tasha Daphne Mitchell(2005)

Civil charges

intentional inflictional of emotional distress
wrongful death

Re:legitimate criminal and civil charges could app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24490299)

Except this occurred in Missouri, not Minnesota, so it might not be applicable.

Free Speech? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24490351)

That is still around? I thought the government took that away a while ago.

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