×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Groklaw Summarizes the Lori Drew Verdict

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the unpredictable-and-retroactve dept.

The Courts 457

Bootsy Collins writes "Last Wednesday, the Lori Drew 'cyberbullying' case ended in three misdemeanor convictions under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a 1986 US Federal law intended to address illegally accessing computer systems. The interpretation of the act by the Court to cover violations of website terms of service, a circumstance obviously not considered in the law's formulation and passage, may have profound effects on the intersection of the Internet and US law. Referring to an amicus curiae brief filed by online rights organizations and law professors, PJ at Groklaw breaks down the implications of the decision to support her assertion that 'unless this case is overturned, it is time to get off the Internet completely, because it will have become too risky to use a computer.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

457 comments

Way too dangerous. (5, Funny)

kwabbles (259554) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937661)

I agree. Get off the Internet. It's too dangerous. Everyone from AOL on - get the hell off.

Re:Way too dangerous. (2, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937727)

Everyone from AOL on - get the hell off.

Replace AOL with "whistleblowers" or any other group... and you'll get the real reason why this case most likely won't be overturned.

Re:Way too dangerous. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25937829)

Despite the surge in internet-centric buzzwords like cloud computing, most "post-AOL" folks are wising up to the fact that the internet is mostly a playground for teenagers and criminals and is not to be taken seriously except for the occasional e-mail or e-bay transaction(larger businesses and certain others use secure methods of communication which don't entail providing your relationship status or your employment history as authentication ;).

The inevitable crapification of the net, along with social networks' abilities to put old friends in touch with each other, have pushed people back into the meatspace where they belong.

So yeah, oh noes, MySpace is teh evil. DUH. Pimping profiles and virtually "hangin'" with your kids' friends is old now. Myspace jumped the shark long ago by providing an easy method for old buddies to find each other. Myspace, Facebook, etc. are all nothing but giant advertising platforms. The savvy have already eschewed that childish nonsense.

Tell ya what, buddies, any adult caught going out of their way to instruct a kid how to suicide is pathetic enough to deserve the wrath of the most draconian interpretations of the law. Hell, in California, prop 8 "technically" passed, right? But the battle is far from over. OMG LOLZ FUD!!!1!!

Re:Way too dangerous. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25938249)

porn:

http://mrfriendly.110mb.com/

...too risky to use a computer.'" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25937673)

This has been the case for years for anyone using any software created by Micro$oft...

What a tool... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25937679)

The woman needs to pay. Unquestionably.

Re:What a tool... (5, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937735)

I agree, but there was no need for this.

She should have been sued for wrongful death. She would have spent the rest of her life paying whatever she makes to the family of that little girl and the rest of us wouldn't have had our rights trampled in the process.

LK

Re:What a tool... (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937773)

WTF? She pretended to be an "internet boyfriend" and then told the girl she didn't want to talk to her anymore. She didn't put rat poison in her coffee. No-one is responsible for the death of a person who commits suicide, except the person who commits suicide. Oh, no, life is too hard. A boy I've never met (and didn't even really exist) doesn't like me anymore, where's the sleeping pills?

Re:What a tool... (5, Insightful)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937861)

Of course, had this been a man talking to a 13-year old girl and pretending to be her boyfriend......
"Have a seat over here"

Re:What a tool... (0, Offtopic)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938145)

Ok, smart guy - quit it with the common sense talk, this is /.

Actually I'm surprised that there isn't a simpler way to prosecute this, along the lines of "causing distress to a minor". I for one would welcome such a development. Unfortunately, a more likely outcome is that there will be a new law along the lines of "Being rude to a tearful, innocent woman. No proof required."

Re:What a tool... (2, Interesting)

thearkitex (1420577) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938309)

Actually I'm surprised that there isn't a simpler way to prosecute this, along the lines of "causing distress to a minor".

But where would one draw the line between "causing distress" and "physically reprimanding"? A simple spanking, while not looked down upon by the court, causes a child quite a bit of distress, hence the crying et al involved.

Re:What a tool... (2, Informative)

deniable (76198) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938549)

'Simple spankings' have been treated as assault in a lot of places for years. They were 'thinking of the children.'

Re:What a tool... (1)

rabbit994 (686936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938477)

define "distress". If I tell a bunch of teenagers they are horribly dressed and Emo's suck, is that distressed? Any time you encourage lawmakers to pass laws that deal with emotional state of someone, you are approaching dangerous territory.

Re:What a tool... (1, Funny)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937933)

The woman told the girl that nobody liked her and that she was a terrible person who should commit suicide.

Re:What a tool... (1, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937979)

I tell slashtards to get fucked on a daily basis but so few of them manage to do it.

What's your point?

Re:What a tool... (5, Insightful)

quanticle (843097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938017)

So? A normal, well adjusted person will immediately disregard such a statement to be false. The fact that the suicide victim was not a normal well adjusted person is not the fault of Lori Drew.

Depression is a disease. It is not the "fault" of any one person or circumstance. Blaming Lori Drew for the victim's depression would be like blaming McDonald's for heart attacks caused by fatty foods. Sure, McDonald's bears some responsibility for serving such fare, and likewise, Lori Drew bears some responsibility for her words. But does the level of responsibility rise to a criminal level? I don't think so. Just like one has the ability to choose what one eats, one also has the ability to choose what words one listens to. The fact that the victim chose to listen to her is no fault of Lori Drew's.

Re:What a tool... (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938035)

How the hell does McDonald's bear responsibility for what a private citizen chooses to purchase and consume willingly knowing full well that greasy fatty foods are bad for your arteries/heart? That's just as ridiculous as all the people who cried that McDonald's made them fat.

Re:What a tool... (5, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938283)

There are two arguments here:

1) People are not blaming Lori Drew for the depression in the young girl.

2) Inflicting this sort of mental anguish to someone who is clinically depressed is like feeding sugary treats by the bucket to someone with diabetes or lighting up cigarettes for someone with lung cancer.

Drew should have been put before a judge - I totally agree with that. Doing it for computer fraud is the wrong charges. If they didn't stick, she would be off scott free. If they do stick they open up the nasties can of worms on the rest of us just to punish this woman.

The fact that the victim chose to listen to her is no fault of Lori Drew's.

That's pretty close to saying that cigarette companies have nothing to do with smokers dying of cancers and other smoking related illness.

Again, my view is that the entire thing is a tragedy, one that wouldn't have happened had people not been so mean/stupid/whatever but charging them with computer fraud is not the right way to go about righting the wrongs that they did.

Re:What a tool... (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938335)

That's pretty close to saying that cigarette companies have nothing to do with smokers dying of cancers and other smoking related illness.

They don't.

Neither do alcohol companies have anything to do with alcohol related deaths.

Neither do car companies have anything to do with driving related deaths.

Neither do skiing companies have anything to do with skiing deaths.

What is so fucking hard to understand here? Everything has risk, if you choose to engage in an activity then it is your choice and you are responsible.

Re:What a tool... (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938541)

You forgot to put weapons manufacturers on your list. I mean, they take the heat for a lot of shootings, but I don't see many TV ads or billboards showing beautiful women playing with guns in an effort to make gun ownership sexy. It's not like the fast food companies, SUV makers and tobacco companies that spend billions of dollars in marketing, convincing us to fuck ourselves over for their benefit. I mean, yes they sell lethal tools, but it's the customer that pulls the trigger.

Now, tobacco companies have been held responsible for cancer deaths because they deliberately withheld knowledge that their product caused that disease, and point-blank lied about it (to the courts and to the public.) Might have been different if they'd been open and honest about their products' effects. Now, to my way of thinking smoke inhalation is a bad idea anyway, but whatever. People fell for it, are still falling for it.

But in general, I agree. Look at our recent history: everything has been about shifting responsibility (and blame) for our own actions onto other people or organizations. Hot coffee spills in your lap ... sue. Shoot your wife dead ... sue the gun maker. Get diabetes ... sue a fast food company. Break into your school and end up a paraplegic ... sue the school. All that because obviously they (whoever they might happen to be) should somehow have stopped you. Some lawyers like that, because it means they get to sue the pants off deep-pockets corporations, and people like it because they don't have to own up to anything, and can maybe get society or some corporation to pay for their own poor judgment.

Makes me sick. Not the America I grew up in, or thought I grew up in.

Re:What a tool... (-1, Redundant)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938299)

Except that this Lori Drew person KNEW of the issues plaguing the victim. She COUNTED on it. This was a nasty plot of revenge. Perhaps the goal wasn't suicide, but it definitely was to cause this depressed girl a lot of pain. I say we shackle the wench up in the middle of town and spit and piss on her until she wants to die. Then unlock them and give her a knife to do so.

Re:What a tool... (5, Insightful)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938311)

So? A normal, well adjusted person will immediately disregard such a statement to be false. The fact that the suicide victim was not a normal well adjusted person is not the fault of Lori Drew

Suppose I purposefully throw a baseball at your head, hard enough to sting a normal person, but not hard enough to cause serious damage.

You happen to have an unusually thin skull, and die. It's not my fault you have a thin skull, so would you say I'm not responsible for your death?

What if I know you have a thin skull? Does that change anything?

Drew is not being blamed for the victim's depression. She is being blamed for taking actions that used that depression to kill the victim. Just like the hypothetical with my baseball and your thin skull, I would not be blamed for your thin skull--I would be blamed for throwing the baseball that killed you.

If you go around chucking baseballs at people's heads, you run the risk of running into someone with a thin skull, and then you have to pay the price. I don't see why tormenting teenage girls online should be any different. Drew wanted to harm the girl, and she happened to cause more harm then she may have intended. Too bad for Drew--that's the gamble she took, and she lost.

(The law will take into account the likelihood of a thin skull in the baseball example, so if thin skulls are so rare that a reasonable person would not consider them a possibility when deciding whether to go around chucking baseballs at people, then you might not face liability for the death. But depressed teenage girls aren't that rare, so that defense won't fly here).

Re:What a tool... (5, Informative)

Kooty-Sentinel (1291050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938091)

Does ANYONE actually read up on the whole case? Oh yeah, forgot which website I'm on :)

Check out the Wikipedia Page [wikipedia.org] for the whole case.

last message sent by Evans read: "Everybody in O'Fallon knows how you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you." Investigators did not find a record of this message.

It was NOT Lori who sent this message. It was Evans. In fact, if you do some quick Googling, you can find that it was in fact Evans who sent most of the messages! Sure Lori knew about all the messages and laughed, but she was not the one who sent them. It's because the stupid knob gobs who gave Evans immunity for testifying that Lori is getting prosecuted right now. They have to prosecute SOMEONE - the easiest and closest person to get anything to stick to was Lori.

Also, everyone is forgetting that Megan killed herself DIRECTLY after having a argument with her mother about profane language used on MySpace messages to "Josh". The mother scolded her emotionally unstable daughter and sent her to her room, where she proceeded to hang herself. Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia page:

Other troubling messages were sent; some of Megan's messages were shared with others; and bulletins were posted about her.[4] After telling her mother, Christina "Tina" Meier, about the increasing number of hurtful messages, the two got into an argument over the vulgar language Megan used in response to the messages and the fact that she did not log off when her mother told her to.[4] After the argument, Meier ran upstairs to her room. She was found twenty minutes later, hanging by the neck in a closet.

Re:What a tool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25938561)

Then in line with what happened to Drew, they should create a new law and charge the parents.

What kind of responsible parents allow their clearly troubled child to go on the internet unmonitored anyway?

The parents need to step up and stop blaming others for their mistakes.

Re:What a tool... (1)

moxley (895517) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938261)

No, that's not what she said, not at all...And even if she had it STILL wouldn't have made a difference. She is in no way responsible for the poor girls death.

The woman is a harpy no doubt, but this fucking case needs to be overturned post hast.

Re:What a tool... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25938119)

The difference between murder and manslaughter is intention, not action. Are you telling me that suddenly we should ignore this woman's intention to cause the death of another person? That's what her intention was, correct?

If I buy a vial of poison from someone but they give me harmless water yet I still try to carry out a plan to murder someone with the "poison", that is still attempted murder. Intentions have just as much to do with the law as actions.

Re:What a tool... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938295)

Let's totally ignore the facts of the case and go with our fictional story here, cause I care more about the fiction than I do about the facts.

I should be free to instruct anyone to do anything, at all, so long as it isn't a crime. Suicide is not a crime, and should not be a crime. Therefore I should be free to instruct someone to commit suicide. Why? Cause you're a free person. You can decide whether or not you want to commit suicide and my instruction to do so is irrelevant to your decision to do so.

I can instruct you to sell all your shit and buy a boat. If you do so, don't come back to me complaining that you don't like sailing.

It may fill me with joy to instruct you to go seek the sexual gratification of a grizzly bear, whether or not you do it is entirely your problem, not mine.

Re:What a tool... (1)

Jamie's Nightmare (1410247) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938169)

I completely agree with you, but it's so hard to get people to hold themselves accountable for their own actions, especially the dead.

Re:What a tool... (2, Insightful)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937949)

And just think , if the parents had done their job and protected their little girl from a situation that was extremely harmful to her mental state (whether or not the 'boyfriend' was real or Lori drew means nothing when a high school boy could be just as bad x10000, on top of the fact that her parents, or at the very least her mother, knew exactly what was being said in the messages the two were exchanging and even had fights with her about that as well as her daughter's refusal to get off teh computer when she was told) then none of this woul dhave happened. Everyone cries THINK OF THE CHILDREN OMFG!, but no one is ever there saying 'Where the fuck were the parents?'

Re:What a tool... (2, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938131)

You just hit the nail on the head. What if Lori Drew was the guy she pretended to be. Would that make it better? Would he be on trial? Lets think this through. This girl thought she was talking to a boy (mistake #1) and believed what this internet person said (mistake #2) then acted on that information (mistake #3) to her own detriment. Three strikes and you're out as they say. I have sympathy for her family, I'm not cruel, but I am realistic. If you want to believe everything you hear, your life won't last long... whether you are a teen girl or anyone else. This girl did some incredibly stupid things. Why should we blame others for that? Sure, they did aide her along, but if they had not someone else would have sooner or later.

One of the things that the law is pretty firm about is that you take responsibility for your own actions, or inaction in some cases. Why would someone else be responsible for something that this girl did all on her own? At any point she was free to not log on, to not talk to this person, and to seek help or second opinions. She fucked up. That's life. If this girl got a bad ride, as you say, her parents should have been more careful, more loving, more concerned, more involved. It's sad, and a shame, but the rest of the world should not have to pay for their mistakes. period. Yes, that all leads to school bullies and other such things. Grow a spine please. The rest of us did, or survived somehow. You can get pads on kids when they are on the playground, but how far do you go? How much protection is too much?

Should we stop building tall buildings? Should we stop building bridges? Should we stop making razor blades? If you go down that path, where does it end?

Re:What a tool... (1)

Mistshadow2k4 (748958) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938557)

Because when people are screaming "think of the children" they really mean think of the parents, as most of them are parents who seem to want to force society as a whole to help them raise their children. It is rare to hear the think-of-the-children people mention the parents and their responsibilities; no, it's usually someone else they're pointing their fingers at.

Re:What a tool... (5, Interesting)

Qwertie (797303) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937921)

When I was young I occasionally suffered actual bullying--as in, with fists. Cyberbullying is a head-scratcher for me: how is it that saying mean things to someone is worse when done on the internet than when it is done face-to-face? Children say mean things to one another all the time and it seems to me that the adults don't do much about it until a fight comes to blows. Or to suicide. That an adult would engage in cyberbullying is bizarre, and wrong, and I maybe there should be a law against it (how would you word this law?). But it's inappropriate to hold her responsible for the child's response, which no one would have predicted. If there is no law that properly applies to her behavior then the judge shouldn't instate a new legal theory just to provide a punishment in one case--not if the precedent could have serious chilling effects on many other people.

Re:What a tool... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938387)

There's been a movement over the past 20 years (maybe longer) to regard 'saying mean things' as bullying. I recall one of my contemporaries getting his mother to complain to the school that he was being bullied because some older boys had told him there was a ghost in the school toilets that ate small children. The school investigated, and I was asked to corroborate his story (they'd told me too, but I just thought the story was entertaining). The boys in question got some kind of punishment.

Bullying is quite a broad term these days.

Time to start a fund for Lori Drew (5, Insightful)

FatSean (18753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937705)

She's an asshole, but this is a bullshit conviction and as the article describes....it hurts everybody.

America is a country of Laws, until butthurt turds scream for revenge. Then fuck the law and rational application of said law...we's gonna get some revenge!

Bye bye free speech...

Re:Time to start a fund for Lori Drew (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937733)

Tell me the man and I'll find you the law to imprison him.

Re:Time to start a fund for Lori Drew (4, Interesting)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937767)

You need a law?

"If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged." - Cardinal Richelieu

I myself have been known to condemn people merely for posting a single sentence on slashdot :)

Re:Time to start a fund for Lori Drew (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25937951)

Hey, quit picking on Hans.

Re:Time to start a fund for Lori Drew (3, Insightful)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937755)

I disagree, when the law is inadequate, it it time to change the law. Would you really want a system where the law never adapted to the modern world? She contributed to someone's death, the fact that she did it over the internet is irrelevant. She had intent to harass, and harassment is illegal, so, all things considered, I think she should be punished for her actions.

That's not what I'm saying. (5, Insightful)

FatSean (18753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937839)

Make a new law, call it the Lori Drew law, and have that law make what she did specifically illegal.

The prosecution twisted the existing laws, which I cannot abide. This conviction should be over-turned.

That's how our system of law works.

Re:That's not what I'm saying. (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937869)

That would work well for future cases, but because laws cannot be retroactive in the United States, it alone would not be sufficient to handle this case.

Perhaps harassment would be a better line of reasoning to pursue than this.

Re:That's not what I'm saying. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937967)

Our entire justice system is predicated on the idea of erring on the side of letting wrong doers free more often than innocents are imprisoned. So sometimes, shit happens, and you try to make it better for the future.

If 'clearly unconscionable to somebody' were the legal standard, I'd be going to prison for this drink sitting next to me, Bill Clinton would be in prison for having too much fun (Rather than just lying), and so on.

Re:That's not what I'm saying. (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938019)

"Clearly unconscionable by wide societal consensus" is quite different than "clearly unconscionable to somebody".

Re:That's not what I'm saying. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938057)

Fair enough, but the legal standard happens to be that laws don't take effect until they are enacted; my point was not the breadth of the consensus, but that we end up having to set aside our personal disgust occasionally (in cases where there is not consensus).

Re:That's not what I'm saying. (1)

Urd.Yggdrasil (1127899) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938137)

That distinction doesn't make the least bit of difference. What if tomorrow 90% of the population decided that using the name Improv was unconscionable and decided to make a law against it, should you be tried under this law for using the name right now? Ex post facto laws are prohibited by the constitution for a good reason.

Re:That's not what I'm saying. (4, Insightful)

residieu (577863) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938315)

Correct. If what she did was not illegal under current laws, she should not be prosecuted for it.

Re:That's not what I'm saying. (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937959)

I do agree there. As the other person who replied to this said, harassment charges (followed by a new law to explicitly outlaw this brand of harassment) would have been a better way to handle it than getting her on something computer related.

Can't do that (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938583)

The biggest problem is you cannot be charged with an ex post facto law. If you do something that is legal, and that then becomes legal later, you cannot be charged under the new law unless you do that thing again. The Constitution says "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."

You can't make a new law and apply it to an old case, nor can you declare that "What this person did in this case is illegal and we'll punish them for it," (that's a bill of attainder). Both are prohibited by the Constitution. If you cannot charge and convict someone under laws that existed at the time of their crime, you cannot do so at all.

Re:Time to start a fund for Lori Drew (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25937881)

She was not convicted of harassment. If she had been convicted of harassment, there would be no issue with the decision. But, she was convicted of illegally accessing a computer.

If you don't have a valid ID that states your real name as ChromeAeonium, you are also 'illegally accessing a computer' and could be in the same boat as Lori Drew.

Re:Time to start a fund for Lori Drew (4, Interesting)

totally bogus dude (1040246) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938037)

Not really, because slashdot's terms and conditions don't require that you use your real name when creating an account or signing posts.

Re:Time to start a fund for Lori Drew (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938399)

While this is true NOW, we all know that nearly place on the net, as well as pretty much ANY service you sign up to anymore, has that "we can change at any time for any reason" clause. And due to the ephemeral nature of the net how are you going to prove that old rules were different, unless you printed them off? After all I don't think there is a "You have to keep old versions of the TOS" law on the books, so if they change the TOS and don't have a backup and you don't have copies then you could be well screwed. While I think this bitch should have payed, and personally I would have just gutted her and been done with it, twisting the laws to please the mob just ain't the way to go.

Re:Time to start a fund for Lori Drew (5, Insightful)

quanticle (843097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938047)

Is the law inadequate in this case? I don't think so. While what Lori Drew did was despicable and wrong, I don't believe it is right to make all despicable and wrong things illegal. Laws should arbitrate instances where one person violates the rights of another. Nothing in this case shows how Lori Drew violated Megan Meier's rights.

Re:Time to start a fund for Lori Drew (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938135)

I disagree, when the law is inadequate, it it time to change the law.

I agree with you. But your disagreement isn't with what the parent said.

Of course laws should be changed as the context of their application changes around them.

What shouldn't happen is judges twisting existing laws to punish people who did something morally wrong but legal. That's what the parent says.

If what Drew did was illegal under some reasonable interpretation of the law, the use the law she violated to punish her. Harassment law seems like a good place to start. If what Drew did was not illegal under some reasonable representation of the law, then twisting existing law in order to convict her means that rule of law goes out the window.

If judges can stretch the letter of the law to cover what you did, then in practice you have ex post facto law: you can be punished for something you did that wasn't illegal when you did it.

The price of the rule of law is of course that you have to let some assholes go because what they didn't was only reprehensible, not illegal.

Re:Time to start a fund for Lori Drew (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937857)

America is a country of Laws

You don't really believe that, do you?

Re:Time to start a fund for Lori Drew (1)

moseman (190361) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937887)

>> Bye bye free speech...

Not sure what you mean here. If you are saying this is a free speech issue I have to disagree.

Unfortunately there are times when laws just cannot cope with a "new" twist, and as such, the perpetrator can't be prosecuted until law makers (I could use other words) make new ones.

I think the real "revenge" will come in civil court where I hope she is sued to oblivion. (Note: I was thrown off a jury for telling the judge I think there are tow many law suits in the USA.) In this case I see a civil suit as an appropriate response until new laws are in place, but they will not affect this case.

Names will never hurt me.. (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937709)

I'm all for the rule of law making it so the weak and the strong have equal standing in society.. but crying to the courts because someone called your daughter a name and she killed herself is just bullshit. It's just like all this sensitivity shit in the workplace and the restrictions on speech at colleges now. Grow a spine.

Re:Names will never hurt me.. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937777)

Grow a spine.

{sigh} We Americans have them surgically removed in childhood, mainly because our parents had theirs removed, and their parents before them. The more people have something to lose, the less they're likely to defend their civil liberties. Doing so requires courage and the acceptance of risk ... and we're pretty damn risk-averse nowadays.

Re:Names will never hurt me.. (4, Insightful)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937885)

I don't entirely disagree, but this was more than a calling someone a name. This was a long and thought out harassment on a minor that resulted in the minor's death. Bit of a difference.

Re:Names will never hurt me.. (1)

ZmeiGorynych (1229722) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938173)

Not enough difference. You don't like what someone writes to you on myspace, you don't read it. If you decide to kill yourself instead, tragic as that is it's not the writer's fault.

WTF (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25937743)

A 49yo woman subjects a 13yo neighbor to humiliation and emotional torment. Why wasn't this prosecuted as a case of felony child abuse?

Re:WTF (3, Informative)

quanticle (843097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938069)

For child abuse charges to apply, the adult has to be in direct contact with the child. I'm not too sure on the specifics, but it doesn't sound like Lori Drew ever really came into direct contact with Megan Meier. It seems that all of their interaction was over the Internet.

PJ does have her moments (4, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937745)

I value PJs contributions to the open source movement, in terms of her legal coverage, but she does have a tendency to go off the deep end sometimes, and I think this is one of those occasions.

The internet has no privacy whatsoever, everything you do can be tracked. This has been true since day one when they turned on ArpaNet, and it will continue to be true. Even if you encrypt your traffic, it can't hide heavy usage, and you cannot hide from your ISP when you are online any more then you can hide making a phonecall from your telecom provider.

People need to realise this and move on. I realise it, and I can cope, but then I never was inclined to tinhattery.

Re:PJ does have her moments (1)

GravityStar (1209738) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937801)

I had to stop reading the summary when PJ basically just blames the mom for Megan's death.

Wow. That just makes my head spin.

Re:PJ does have her moments (2, Informative)

Urd.Yggdrasil (1127899) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938177)

PJ didn't blame the mom for Megan's death, but pointed out how the very laws that were twisted to punish Drew could just as easily be used to convict her mother. But you must admit that there is a certain amount of responsibility that her mother has for what eventually happened to her. She had attempted suicide before but was left alone while she was clearly upset.

Re:PJ does have her moments (1)

ZmeiGorynych (1229722) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938247)

Who else?

Yes, it was her child and her responsibility.

Am I the only parent who notices that this child was left alone on the Internet, with admonitions to stop but delayed enforcement? And can you *prove* in a court of law that it was not the mother's failure to support her, as the child apparently viewed it, that actually caused the death? This child had tried to kill herself before, the article points out, an attempt that had nothing to do with the cyberbullying. No doubt that's why the local authorities didn't prosecute, since they said there was no way to actually say what exactly caused the suicide

What about this makes your head spin? Sounds perfectly sensible to me.

Re:PJ does have her moments (3, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937931)

The internet has no privacy whatsoever, everything you do can be tracked. This has been true since day one when they turned on ArpaNet, and it will continue to be true.

To hear that from someone on slashdot just makes me laugh. There's a million ways to be anonymous from open WiFi (even the retards should have that one figured out) to misconfigured proxies, mixmaster networks, freenet, TOR, JAP and a host of other possibilities for anyone that wants real anonymity.

Even if you encrypt your traffic, it can't hide heavy usage, and you cannot hide from your ISP when you are online any more then you can hide making a phonecall from your telecom provider.

Between my encrypted bittorrent connections which run 24/7, they certainly couldn't by volume alone and all it'd take would be a way to piggy-back over a similar connection to run normal internet services.

Of course, it won't do you any good when you got your whole life on a semi-public blog/facebook/myspace page anyway, but that's not a technical problem...

Re:PJ does have her moments (2, Interesting)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938205)

To hear that from someone on slashdot just makes me laugh.

It's been more of a social/news site ever since they added the politics section. I think the definition of 'nerd' has expanded somewhat as well... you certainly don't see as many tech savvy folks here as you used to.

Re:PJ does have her moments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25938429)

What does the issue of online privacy have to do with the concerns expressed by the EFF and CDT, and described in PJ's post? Did you read the article and the amicus curiae brief?

Two things. (3, Insightful)

jskline (301574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937747)

First off; you know damned well and good that this will be overturned on appeal. It can't be allowed to stand because the interpretation is skewed to begin with. Secondly; This article reads as a scare tactic to shut down the Internet. Come on; get real.

This lady is bad. But there are way to many others of like kind out there and to tie this all together like that is just crappy thinking and reasoning. The kid did have emotional issues that were an underlying complicit part of this formula. Now lets all come back to earth.

She's a teacher and she doesn't know computers? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25937769)

I don't know what to say. She's a teacher, thus she is SUPPOSED to know more than the kids she's teaching. It would be nice to see some evidence of class preparation but NO, when she turned on the computer all the porn pop-ups happened and she just dug herself deaper into the problem. She should have unplugged the computer (the ultimate way to fix computer problems) when the porn started appearing, but she let it continue until some kids with queasy parents saw the stuff on the screen and OMG they are scarred for life. So now this poor teacher has a criminal conviction on her record and probably cannot teach anywhere now all because she wasn't prepared for port popups.

Re:She's a teacher and she doesn't know computers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25937973)

I don't know what to say. She's a teacher, thus she is SUPPOSED to know more than the kids she's teaching.

Which is why most teachers are Pokemasters.

Re:She's a teacher and she doesn't know computers? (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938115)

Uhh... wrong story. That's Julie Amero.

This story is about some chick who was a reverse trap, and fucked with some teenage girl's head online, and said teenage girl killed herself.

Whole lotta wtf with this case. (1)

TOGSolid (1412915) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937775)

I really have to wonder how Lori's defense attorney completely botched this case. It should have been an absolute walk in the park for him to sink the case. If this doesn't get overturned I can already see the next big lawsuit after this: "The Church of Scientology VS 4chan."

blog posts by one of her lawyers (5, Informative)

marhar (66825) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937831)

Orin Kerr, one of Lori Drew's attorneys, is a regular blogger at the libertarian legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy.

http://volokh.com/ [volokh.com]

He has a summary here:

"What does the Lori Drew Verdict Mean?"
http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2008_11_23-2008_11_29.shtml#1227728513 [volokh.com]

and has updated the blog's terms of use:

Any accessing the Volokh Conspiracy in a way that violates these terms is unauthorized, and according to the Justice Department is a federal crime that can lead to your arrest and imprisonment for up to one year for every visit to the blog.

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2008_11_23-2008_11_29.shtml#1227896387 [volokh.com]

Bad facts make bad law (3, Interesting)

redelm (54142) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937837)

As much as I respect her other writing, PJ needs a chill-pill. Hasn't she ever head "Bad facts make bad law?" The tormerntors' behaviour was egregious and they ought to have been charged with "assisting suicide" if such a charge was available in CA.

As for serverco retroactively ruling conduct "unauthorized", there's a panoply of affirmative defenses such as invitation, habitual tolerence, failure to notify, discriminatory enforcement. Cyberbullying wouldn't have those available.

Re:Bad facts make bad law (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938029)

So long as we're talking about fictional laws, I think "inciting suicide" would be the appropriate charge. In many states it is illegal to commit suicide, so inciting someone to do it is "inciting to commit a crime". Of course, these states are fucked and neither commit suicide, nor inciting someone to commit suicide, should be a crime (IMHO).

Re:Bad facts make bad law (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938383)

Be careful that your own tastes do not color your sense of logic or justice.

Suicide itself is legal in a number of places (England, Canada) while assisting it is still a crime.

We are talking about a very simple legal decision here: MySpace allows its' servers to be used for pleasant chat. It does not allow harrassment, and probably bans a fair number of people each month for this violation. The court found based on evidence that Lori knew or ought to have known this policy and wilfully violated it. Making server access unauthorized and unlawful (ignorance of the law is no excuse). Ergo guilty.

Re:Bad facts make bad law (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938425)

Telling someone to off themself is not "assisting".

As for the TOS, meh, you're probably right about the law, but I opposed that law when it was being used for it's intended purpose: keeping interested teenagers out of unix systems they couldn't afford.

Re:Bad facts make bad law (1)

riceboy50 (631755) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938073)

ought to have been charged with "assisting suicide"

Uh, what? Any laws against assisting suicide refer to facilitating the act (i.e. Dr. Kevorkian [wikipedia.org] ). Harassment, which the only thing this woman is guilty of, is illegal. Bending laws to try to "nail" her with something bigger is the whole problem we're discussing.

Re:Bad facts make bad law (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938269)

Where is "assisting suicide" confined only to direct, physical assistance? Granted such assistance is obvious and intent easy to prove. But presuming the burdens of actions and intent can be proven why would other things not be "assistance"?

If you tell me you want to commit suicide and ask where you can buy rope, and I not assisting suicide if I answer you? If you don't say why, then of course I have no proveable intent.

This isn't a question of overcharging, but rather making sure the guilty are punished. Whether this is correct or not (maybe you rejoice over OJ), there _is_ a strong tendency in American justice not to allow people "to get away with murder."

Re:Bad facts make bad law (1)

riceboy50 (631755) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938337)

Using your example, where did Megan say "OMG guys I am totally going to commit suicide if you keep calling me fat"? And even if she did, it would still be tenuous to say that someone who called her fat was assisting suicide. Maybe if they handed her the razor blade... but much short of that then it's a ridiculous claim.

Re:Bad facts make bad law (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938529)

Sure. Last msg was: "Everybody in O'Fallon knows how you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you."

This from an exfriends mother impersonating a cute boy. Just like a sexual predator, grossly misrepresenting herself for personal gratification.

Re:Bad facts make bad law (1)

ameyer17 (935373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938229)

if such a charge was available in CA.

Except the tormenting and suicide occurred in Missouri.
Speaking of that, yet another reason why this case is bullshit. You shouldn't be dragged to a federal court 2000 miles from where you live over a crime that occurred in your home.

Re:Bad facts make bad law (1)

ameyer17 (935373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938255)

Of course, that'd be assuming a crime was committed. Since they had to stretch the law so badly just to charge her with something, I'm not convinced an actual crime occurred.

Re:Bad facts make bad law (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938321)

Thank you for the additional facts. I wonder why Missouri didn't prosecute.

Owing to the nature of the violation (unlawful access to computer resources), the charge would have to be brought where the server was located. So watch _where_ you are going. I do, and there are some places I just will not go. Do you?

Re:Bad facts make bad law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25938575)

MySpace's servers are in Los Angeles, thus the crime occurred in Los Angeles.

Any "assisting suicide" charge would be bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25938233)

The only thing LD is guilty of is of being a jerk. The fact that you believe it just proves that you are a gullible moron.

The internet is ALREADY too dangerous for mOSt ... (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937863)

"PJ at Groklaw breaks down the implications of the decision to support her assertion that 'unless this case is overturned, it is time to get off the Internet completely, because it will have become too risky to use a computer ." [emphasis added]

That has been true for Windows users for as long as I can recall, albeit for different reasons :-)

I noted that it was a fishing expedition (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937879)

and dangerous to all, I closed with "Lovely, whats next. If crap like this succeeds it opens everyone up to any fishing expedition law enforcement cares to make"

That is exactly what we have. A new way for GOVERNMENT to punish someone who a GOVERNMENT employee doesn't like or thinks something was wrong even if nothing is legally wrong.

Basically it lets them write the laws to prosecute on demand. The problem is that with every organization there are a lot of spiteful people around and this gives them too much power to correct the world as they see fit or take a back door approach to nailing someone they don't like.

Guess I better be careful who I cut in front of while driving now.

Re:I noted that it was a fishing expedition (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938079)

Crazy people are allowed to own guns in the United States. Being careful who you cut in front of while driving was already the prudent thing to do.

(Note that I am o.k. with people owning guns, it is part of our culture and any ban would be nearly impossible to enforce, and increase the ratio of bad people who own guns to good people who own guns.)

Lori Drew is guilty.... (3, Insightful)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937909)

without question.

Unfortunately, the thing she's guilty of wasn't actually illegal when she did it. It was immoral, indefensible, and even if she gets off on these charges(which she probably will) she's going to be punished for the rest of her life and she deserves it.

She, as an adult who should have known better, created a false identity to harrass a minor, and that minor commited suicide, at least partially as a result. She set out to hurt that little girl, and the fact that this kid was mentally ill does not excuse that.

As in all cases like this, the government had to show both the victim's family and society at large that they'd go after this sort of thing. The case will probably be overturned because the case they could put together was pretty tenuous(because there wasn't a crime for what she did), but they've shown people that they're serious about this shit.

The crime they've charged her with may not be the one she's guilty of, but she's still guilty, and she deserves everything that's coming to her and more. She's an adult, she should have known better.

Re:Lori Drew is guilty.... (1)

riceboy50 (631755) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938123)

I'm afraid for the future if many people think like you. Having the government start prosecuting people for arbitrary charges just because you've done something that is socially unacceptable sends chills down my spine.

Re:Lori Drew is guilty.... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938171)

I'm afraid for the future if many people think like you. Having the government start prosecuting people for arbitrary charges just because you've done something that is socially unacceptable sends chills down my spine.

Kinda brings back thoughts of the Salem Witch Trials, doesn't it?

in america, of course (-1, Flamebait)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937955)

where corporations can buy laws and court decisions and even opinion through use of money.

same doesnt fly in europe. french try it sometimes, but Eu bitch slaps them on the face and they sit pretty.

you people gotta wake up, and take over your country.

Civil, not criminal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25938107)

She should not have had criminal charges. However, she should have been sued into oblivion from the civil suit.

Our rights saved. Asshattery punished.

Simple.

lori drew is an outlier, she sets no precedent (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938293)

ignorance of law leads to the interpretation that the lori drew case has far reaching implications. hysteria leads to the rest

and frankly, slashhordes, if this case is your waterloo, then you don't deserve any online rights, because this case, in its proper context that anyone with the faintest understanding of law understands, has absolutely nothing to do with your online rights

you defend your rights from genuine threats to it. only ignorance, stupidity, and hysteria considers the lori drew case a threat to their rights

slashhordes are constantly tut tutting society overreacing with hysteria. now you are doing it

calm the fuck down and grow some fucking brains

Re:lori drew is an outlier, she sets no precedent (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938319)

That would be true if we had sane judges, a sane president and a sane congress that actually knew anything about computers. But we don't, so that's how we get such messed up laws the the DMCA. Of course people are worried about it after seeing how the DMCA turned out.

Alarmist bullshit - and not the first time, either (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938333)

PJ and groklaw have done a lot of good, but somethimes she just doesn't "get it", and goes off the deep end. This is one of those times

FTFA:

If it respects this decision, I don't feel safe there. I didn't even want to visit its web site to try to find its terms of use. But according to this article, MySpace gets to be the one that decides if we've violated their terms:

MySpace users agree that the social networking site has the final say on deciding whether content posted by users violates a long list of regulations contained in the agreement.

There is no recourse. They make the law and if you mess up, you go to jail.

Since when doe web sites have the authority to jail anyone?

They can, like anyone else, decide whether you've violated their TOS. If they decide you have, then they either cancel your account or, if you've been doing something blatantly illegal, they can bring it to the attention of the fuzz. Same as YOU are the final authority to decide whether someone has violated YOUR rights - if you believe so, you can't send them to jail - but you CAN make a complaint to the police.

Like the whole "we must move to GPLv3 or we are doomed!" and "Novell is bad today because they made a deal with Microsoft over linux patents" when they didn't. (And don't bring up mono - nobody gives a f*ck about mono).

gotta love overreaching laws (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25938407)

Well, there is one side to this law that works out well.

Since it basically lets websites define their own criminal law, it will now be illegal for police/riaa/etc to go on a website that says "you agree you are not etc etc etc" meaning basically online piracy was just deemed legal.

So on one hand, this is completely fucked up. On the other though.

If this happened to a guy no one would bat an eye. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25938437)

Can't those guys being setup by "to catch a predator" get criminal convictions against the network if they are doing the exact same thing. Pretending to be someone they are not over the internet... but no the worst that ever happened to that show was being sued because someone commited suicide over it.
Seriously though... when I was younger I did the same thing, stood some guy up on a blind date because when I was younger I thought it was ridiculus to try to meet people over the internet. You must be desparate if you do so.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...