MySpace Explains The Law To States' Attorneys General

from the so,-the-first-thing-you-need-to-do-is... dept

Following the ridiculous grandstanding by a group of 8 state attorneys general, MySpace has responded to the demand that they hand over the names of sex offenders who are registered on the site by noting that to do so would be against the law. Specifically, it would violate the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). You would think that someone in the position of Attorney General would know the law — but why let the law come between you and a little grandstanding publicity “for the children?” MySpace also notes that it’s been pretty successful in finding and blocking sex offenders, so the whole thing is quite overblown. You have to hand it to MySpace. It’s nice to see them resist just handing over info to the government, rather than, say, pulling a Verizon and claiming a first amendment right to hand your info over to the government.

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Comments on “MySpace Explains The Law To States' Attorneys General”

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Mike (profile) says:

Re: wow

only some wanna be open minded punks like you idiots that run this site would not want to see children protected,

I’ll note that you don’t explain how handing over the names of people that MySpace probably can’t identify in the first place “protects the children.” The problem is it doesn’t protect them at all. The real troublemakers will still get on the site under other names. The way to protect the children isn’t by giving MySpace busywork, but to teach children that there are dangerous people online and teach them some street smarts to avoid those dangerous people.

NoNeedForNameCalling says:

Re: wow

It is usually the people who get the most zealous about a topic that have a deep seated emotional connection to the issue. (The homophobe who covers his latent homosexuality with public displays of homonegativity and violence.)

The connection here could be that Mr. Ruff was himself the prey of an online sex predator. Who is now trying to protect others through nonsensical name calling in a Techdirt comment. And grasping for any possible solution to eliminate the nightmare he lived through.

Or, more likely, is in fact a self-hating, guilt ridden, online predator and is essentially begging for someone to stop him before he strikes again. Who will use any means necessary to end his battle with the black place of guilt and shame within. Even to the extent of supporting useless regulation and laws, that will look good on the outside, but will actually do nothing to stop his depravity.
Hmmm…. ironic or diabolical, you decide.

Andrew Garrett says:

Re: wow

I think sex offenders being flushed out of any where is a good thing, only some wanna be open minded punks like you idiots that run this site would not want to see children protected, this indeed has become a sick world but hey thats what you techie perverts rely on to make money!!!!!

This argument is best evaluated with a premise-by-premise evaluation.

  • some wanna be open minded punks Irrelevant, ad hominiem, and it’s not even made clear whether this is a bad thing or not
  • you idiots that run this site would not want to see children protected Appeal to emotion, and ad hominiem argument. Also, some fairly obvious inappropriate use of emotive language
  • this indeed has become a sick world I’m not sure where this fits in. Regardless, ‘sick world’ is both an inappropriate use of emotive language, and an asserted proposition without any factual basis.
  • but hey thats what you techie perverts rely on to make money This involves both the Association and Appeal to Motive fallacies. Evidently, the motives of ‘you techie perverts’ are being called into question, with the premise ‘[you] rely on [it] to make money’. Additionally, the argument for ‘techie perverts’ amounts to something like ‘you support anonymity for perverts, therefore you, yourself are a pervert’ — a case of the association fallacy.

Can you come up with a coherent argument for what you have to say?

sue says:

Re: wow

Myspace has bent over backwards to keep everyone happy. Now it is time for the parents of these exploited children to do their jobs and limit or stop them from using the MySpace sites. Parents give their little darlings the puters for their rooms and then ignore them as their children spend hours on end at all types of sites and when suddenly they find their child has been doing a no-no with some sexual deviant they are shocked. The policing should begin in the home of the children with the computer placed in the family common area and watched at all times. Our government the ECPA and Myspace is just following the laws placed on them by our govenment.
Damned in you do, Damned if you dont.

Dave (profile) says:

Re: wow

I’m so tired of ignorant fools who think everything is black & white. Not all sex offenders are child molesters. And MySpace isn’t responsible for babysitting your children. I have a friend who was caught having sex with another man while he was serving in the military. Because of that, he is registered as a sex offender and had to move when a new Georgia law said that sex offenders can’t live within so many feet of a school bus stop. Do you think he’s a threat?

Grow up and pay attention to your children. If you don’t want to be a parent, use a condom.

phrits says:

Re: wow - do you even know what you're talking abo

Have you checked your local zip code to find out what sort of “sex offenders” you have living near you? I looked a year or so ago, and easily 80% of them were registered for convictions of (consensual) incest. Okay, I think hot brother-on-sister action is gross (although it appears to be quite popular among some of the crowd), but I fail to see how my kids are threatened even if it’s happening next door. Most of the others were registered for similarly mundane reasons. And the last I checked, it was unlawful, unamerican, and even unbiblical (Gen 18:23-33) to punish many for the “crimes” of a few.

SergioC (user link) says:

Brian, I understand what you think, but I think it’s not the right way to express yourself.

Although privacy in communications isn’t really an absolute right, there must be a court order or Attorney General of the United States certification depending in the process we are in. Remember the case is still being studied, so data like this can’t be this easily accessed. We all want this kind of things to never happen again, but this is not the way.

Chris says:

Brian Ruff, please kill yourself.

It is the narrow-minded “protect the childrenz” activists like you that do nothing but rant off in uneducated emotional tirades about how we’re all such bad people. We are trying to stand up for our rights to privacy, and more importantly the right to not be inconvenienced by un-needed and un-warranted laws. If you don’t want your kid to be at risk to sex-offenders online, do not let them use the internet without supervision; it is seriously that simple. Download some free parental control software if you are too bad of a parent to actually raise a child yourself and rely on third parties to do so for you. Your child’s teacher is not supposed to protect them from harm, they are to educate your kid how to write and do basic arithmetic. Your local congressman is not supposed to pass laws to protect your child from harm, they are supposed to pass laws that allow you to have an income so you can raise your child yourself.

For the love of god, quit going off every 10 seconds about how the government is not doing all it can to help your damn kid see another day. If you want your kid to be protected while riding a bike, do not have elected officials make laws that force him to wear a helmet. Buy the kid a helmet yourself, and say, “You’re grounded if you don’t wear this.” Short of a bullet already flying through the air, there already exists a way for you to keep your kid out of harm’s way. It just requires that YOU do something YOURSELF, and is completely void of any outside dependence.

I highly doubt “the sick world” is the sole income for TechDirt. The Blog itself seems to be well funded by the cluster of adds you see to the right —->. However, if the meager supplemental income the company receives for said ads is not enough to pay for less than a meg in bandwidth for hosting text files, I somehow think that the actual analysis services that TechDirt corp. offers, and the wealth of income they receive for it (upwards in the $100,000 range I’m assuming), is more than enough.

I only say you are an uneducated person simple because you use phrases such as “techie perverts,” thus implying that we are all perverts who are sexually gratified solely by technology, not perverted people whom associate themselves with technology. That, and your horrible grammar, inability to acknowledge that anywhere is one word, not two, and label anyone who’s open-minded (notice the hyphen?), instantly as a punk simply on the basis that they read TechDirt or contribute to it’s feedback community. If this is not the case, then odds are you were just emotional at the time, and squabbling over basic communication etiquette was not a top priority. If neither is the case, please by all means respond with a valid argument. “Shut up you stupid punk” I regret to inform you, will not suffice.

Jack Sombra says:

Myspace was sounding all reasonable and logical untill i got to the last paragraph

“We need cooperation from lawmakers to drive mandatory sex offender email registration legislation at the federal and state level to make blocking predators from community-based websites a more efficient process,”

Yeah right like that legislation will be really efective, because it’s like sooooo hard to get another email under a false name

The infamous Joe says:

Kids are liars.

I have the strong need to point out that any of these young children on myspace have already lied about their age. You have to be older than a specific age to get a myspace profile. I’m not sure about the exact age, but I imagine it’s somewhere around 16 years. I only know this because my girlfriend, in her infinite wisdom, tried to make a myspace page for her dog– who is only 4 years old– and she was told that she was ineligible for a myspace account, and then it locked out that email address. (Yes, her dog has an email address– that wasn’t my doing, I assure you!) 😛

What I’m getting to is that you have a handful of unchecked variables to “prove” an identity. You can lie about every aspect of your account– hell, with you can even lie about your email address. And because the children you are trying to “protect” have lied about their age, you can’t even search for old men with young women on their friend’s list, because the young women have to lie and say they are older just to be found on myspace. (For example, my little sister’s profile says she’s 63)

So, as has been stated before, it all comes down to parents learning to parent. God help us all.

G says:

Mike Masnic – either you are one of the people whose name is on the list, or you are just a pathetic individual for defending even in a sublte way the actions by MySpace (not turning over the names is not Chivalry).

EVERY ADVERTISER ON TECH DIRT OUGHT TO PULL OUT FOR COMMENTARY LIKE THIS…… And as for Federated Media even linking to this clip – thats one advertisers ought to pick up with Battelle and Co. directly. Enough already with you people defending every jerk in town under the veil of the first amdendment. Our children are being attacked every day – and you animals are some of the cheerleaders.

Wizard Prang (user link) says:

Re: We have a winner...

…for “most blatant ad-hominem attack of the day”

This thread subject is reasonable.

What is not reasonable is when important decisions are made based on emotion rather than what the law states, which, as far as I can see, is what this thread is all about.

When you are reduced to name-calling you have lost the argument.

In conclusion, “Won’t someone please think of the children?” Yes, I did. That’s why I don’t have any.

Roe says:

Re: Re: We have a winner...


SailorRipley says:

Re: Re: Re: We have a winner...

I guess all caps and/or name calling is the last refuge of the incompetent, just like violence is in the real world…

this is just to dumb for so many reasons…it’s going to be fun 🙂


don’t advertisers usually only look at their bottom line? “Morals” don’t really factor into that, so assuming it would is naive at best, although retarded is the more likely contender


by all means, lets let Attorney Generals prosecute…however, that might proof to be difficult when they have no legal grounds to force MySpace to fork over the information…


nice of you to advice the parent poster…unfortunately, he wasn’t defining either, so this severely calls into question your basic ability to comprehend what you read…


for the lawyers: I refer you to 2)

for the parents: the general consensus here is that parents should “take” it “forward” by actually educating their kids to not meet up with strangers they talk to online and not divulge personal information


demonstrating you don’t master the basics of the language you are attempting to post a comment in does not really help your image of being intellectually capable and worthy of discussion. Although, the content of your entire reply oozes with proof to the contrary, so I guess you are right not to worry about form…

Let me phrase this as respectful as I can, yet at the same time attempt by style and form to make it as clear as possible to you…


Chris says:

Re: Re: Re: We have a winner...

I fail to see how you’re a psychic, and can will all certainty lobby the idea that advertisers will pull out of techdirt on the basis that you and another, versus 20 odd opponents or so, are offended. Moreover I don’t see any PhD in support of your critical thinking and logic skills to help support your argument that we should all keep our comments to ourselves, because we aren’t master philosophers that can produce infallible definitions on what is to be a parent, or what is to be a lawyer.

Further support of this is in your statement “LET THE PEOPLE WHO ARE PARENTS, OR LAWYERS OR BOTH TAKE THIS FORWARD.” Which is to say only people who have had sex to the point where they produced a child, regardless of whether they threw it into a trash can at birth whereupon it survived and is now fostered, or someone with a law degree (notice the overwhelmingly huge difference in educated decision making abilities?), are the only agents able enough to discuss the issue at hand. God forbid, we the people, who have enough common sense to know the government can never help protect your child. The only way they can guarantee it will never come across harm is to lock in a room devoid of any outside interaction with the REAL WORLD. Quit relying on the most inept people in the world to do something that requires the utmost competence, raising a child.

The infamous Joe says:

Re: Re:

G, let me spin this around for you to look at.

Everyone whose child is attacked/molested via myspace or the internet is guilty of child negligence and should be punished accordingly, to the full extent of the law.

If someone brings a life into this world, they are then responsible for it. *MY* children aren’t being attacked everyday, because I do not feel I am ready for that responsibility, and that, sadly, makes me far more responsible than anyone who has the gall to blame a web site for their own failings as a parent. If you dropped your kid off at the park and left them, and they were molested, then you can bet that there would be an investigation on why you were leaving a child unattended in a park. The internet is the same. (If not worse.) I advise any self-righteous parent who even *thinks* to blame an inanimate object for letting their child contact a child molester to reconsider who is actually to blame.

The internet is not your babysitter– it is a gateway to the world, good and bad. Be a parent and protect your own children– it’s not my job, or anyone else’s.

Sirjames says:

Re: Re: Re:

Very good point you have made there Joe! How often do we see kids playing games outside anymore? How many times does a child spend reading a book or visiting a library or museum? What happened to the “good ol’ days?”
Well, they have been replaced by convienence making devices. Want a snack, eat come chips (what? no carrots or an orange now and then???), want your child to learn (Hey! What happened to group activities like exploring some creek of playing a kickball game?), want someone to watch over your child (it used to be grandma or a trusted neighbor or friend. Now it is watching them zone-out in front of the television or computers!!)…..Yes, there are people out there who are far from nice. I am not trying to make light of sex offenses against children at all but it is high time that we as parents (I got 2) to get off our lazy asses and spent some time communicating with those we love. Believe it or not, this can even be done with a computer. Teach them to surf the web safely and to report ANYTHING that they are not comfortable with. If you are unable to be at home when the kids first log on to the computer, then install a program of every keystroke they have done. You will see that most of the time they are talking to one another about school, activities, latest boy or girlfriend, maybe even learning something new. If it is something that causes you concern, discuss it with them promptly. This is not invading their privacy! IT IS CALLED BEING A LOVING, CARING PARENT!!! Anything less is cause for you to be considered an abuser. Protect the children!!! Love the children!!! BUT DO SO WISELY AND RESPONSIBLY!!! It does not take a lawyer or an elected official to do this. It take a parent who wants the very best for the next generation……starting with those in our own homes.

LesterRay says:

Just a dig ole bummy

I ain’t very smart but if they could stop SO profiles from these ate steights, then could they also stop all the SO profiles from all over the world from getting onto MySpace. There are only about 7 countries worldwide with SO registration. How would this small number of restricted SO’s STOP predation on the site.
It is a good thing to do what we can to help protect out children, but, as it has been said the best offense is a good defense and it must begin at home with proper parntal guidance.
If you believe the Bible or not, even if it just a book of atiquated fairy tails, then it started telling the story of SO’s thousands of years ago. It is an old story that will never end. No new law will ever stop it as long as there is a continued moral decline. Our modernm ideas is stop the SO’s by creating laws. We depend to much on lawmakers to make laws that they can in no way enforce. They took prayer out of the school and the moral downfall of society skyrocketed at breakneck speed. Then they told parents that they cannot punish their children and the rocket goes higher and faster…We empowered lawmakers to remove morality and now we expect them to fix a moral problem…I would not want their job…They broke what they cannot fix…MORALITY…Only the strongest willed parents who dare stand against the laws will dare raise their children with proper restraints and morals and those children will be the ones who can safely use this monster…

DCX2 says:

Protect the children?

The only reason anyone would need the government to protect the children is because the parents aren’t doing their job.

If you think handing over the names would be effective in any way, just look how effective the Terrorist Watch List is at catching high-level government officials, people with security clearance, nuns…

And, maybe it would initially result in a small purge of people from myspace. They’d just find a way to get right back in.

Alex says:

Oh jeez

it never fails. someone doesn’t realize how insanely easy it is to get an email address and lie about your personal information online.

i have a dozen yahoo accounts under false names. I am an aerospace engineer, a lawyer, a student, self employed, and a sanitation department worker.

I am 16, 21, 28, 73, 48, 90, and 52 years old.

i reside in canada, the dominican republic, russia, former soviet georgia, and pakistant.

who knows who i really am? am i really the 21 year old international business major living in michigan that my gmail says i am? who knows?

no one has ever come to my door to confirm my identity. i come and go as i please all over the internet, under any of my assumed names for any reason.

there is no way to possibly keep sex offenders from getting an email address and a myspace account, short of tethering them physically to their home and not allowing a computer to come within 100 yards.

you will not keep sex offenders off myspace, it is not reasonable to even think you can try.

the best way to protect the children is to FRIGGING EDUCATE YOUR OWN KIDS AND PROTECT THEM YOURSELF.

Sanguine Dream says:

Emotion vs. Logic

Its as simple as that. We all know that “protect the children” draws on the emotions of nearly every living person whether that emotion is good or bad. Politicians prey on that emotion during campaign times and I wouldn’t be suprised is some of those 8 Attorney Generals are up for re-election or is dropping in the approval polls.

While emotion is a good motivator to get something done its not a good idea to base major decisions on it. This is where logic should come in. Stop and think about the proposed law.

Does this law make sense?

Is it easy to understand and not bogged down in legal mumbo jumbo that requires a law degree to translate?

Does it violate or contradict any existing laws?

How enforcable is this law?

Will this law really produce its intended effect or will it just fade away in obscurity?

No I don’t have any kids of my own but I have enough nieces and nephews to know how important protecting the children is. And I also care enough to think about the best way to do it instead of just blindly following any and every politician that comes up with some proposal to protect the children without really doing so. I also care enough to know that the best way to protect them is to teach them. Make sure the kids know how to conduct themselves online and in public. Teach your kid not to follow that stranger down the dark alley. Teach them not to give their personal information to random people on the internet. Teach them not to get in that car with the person they don’t know. No teching them how to protect themselves won’t magically stop child abusers but neither will some law. This law is just a copout for people that want to set up a fall guy for when things wrong and for parents that are too lazy to teach their kids how to play it safe and smart.

Anonymous Coward says:

What about other dangerous persons?

Sex offenders aren’t the only dangerous people children can meet on-line. What about people involved with illicit drugs? Would we want them attempting to lure our children into that? Or any other criminal behavior? Or what about people trying to lure our children into a false religion? What could possibly be worse than spending all eternity in hell? That’s certainly worse than any kind of earthly abuse!

So here’s a solution: MySpace should require all members to submit to an annual criminal background check, at the member’s expense of course. That member’s criminal record should then be included as a non-removable part of the member’s profile. The member should also be required to identify their religious beliefs. Minors should then be required to have their parents review and pre-approve any profiles they want to visit.

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