Thanks To The Lori Drew Case, I Can Make Each Of You A Criminal

from the oh,-the-power... dept

We’ve already talked about how the Lori Drew case represents a dangerous slippery slope, in that it effectively turns just about everyone into an internet criminal who can face years in jail for “criminal computer fraud,” simply because they disobeyed a website’s terms of service — even if they didn’t read the terms or even approve them. With the initial verdict in, Orin Kerr — who is involved with the case as a part of Drew’s legal team — demonstrates how awful this case is by changing the terms of service on the blog he writes for in order to demonstrate how easy it is for any website to turn pretty much everyone into a criminal:

New Terms of Use for the Volokh Conspiracy: In light of the verdict in the Lori Drew case, I have decided to promulgate new Terms of Use for the Volokh Conspiracy. You are only permitted to visit the Volokh Conspiracy if you are in compliance with the 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.

By visiting this blog, you promise that:

  1. You will not post comments that are abusive, profane, or irrelevant. Civil and relevant comments only, as indicated by our comment policy.
  2. You are not an employee of the U.S. government. Yes, that includes postal service employees, law clerks, judges, and interns. We’re a libertarian-leaning blog, and we’re for the private sector only. Government types, keep out.
  3. Your middle name is not “Ralph.” I’ve always thought Ralph was a funny name, and even odder as a middle name. No one with the middle name “Ralph” is welcome here.
  4. You’re super nice. We have strict civility rules here, and this blog is only for people who are super nice. If you are not super nice, as judged by me, your visit to this blog is unauthorized.
  5. You have never visited Alaska. Okay, this one is totally arbitrary, but it’s our blog and we can keep out who we want. Alaska visitors are out, too.

If you post an abusive comment; you are an employee of the U.S. government; your middle name is Ralph; you’re not super nice, as judged by me; or you have visited Alaska, I have kinda bad news for you: You are a criminal, as you have just violated 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2)(C) by accessing the Volokh Conspiracy’s service without authorization or in excess of authorization. You are only authorized to visit the blog in compliance with the Terms of Use, and by violating these terms you have become a criminal by essentially “hacking in” to the Volokh Conspiracy.

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Comments on “Thanks To The Lori Drew Case, I Can Make Each Of You A Criminal”

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85 Comments
Matt says:

humorous side affect

It allows any torrent or warez site like piratebay to be 100% legal in the US, too.

All they have to do is have a disclaimer that makes it illegal for law enforcement and other individuals to access the websites as they always have, the whole “you are entering this site in agreement that you are not law enforcement, etc”.

Good job prosecutors. Good job in shoving your heads up your asses.

GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

No. Someone committed suicide.

Tragic as this story was, I can’t help but think that this young lady was too fragile in spirit to be allowed to use the internet, frankly.

And if suicide was her selected response to a mere cruelly-ended cyber-crush, I can’t even imagine what she would have done once she filled out her first income tax form.

Cygnus says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

No. Someone committed suicide.

Tragic as this story was, I can’t help but think that this young lady was too fragile in spirit to be allowed to use the internet, frankly.

And if suicide was her selected response to a mere cruelly-ended cyber-crush, I can’t even imagine what she would have done once she filled out her first income tax form.

Awesome! You get the gold star for sensitivity.

meh says:

Must be open season stupidity

Nice! Violating any T&C can be the definition of “Hacking In”.

———-
TERMS OF READING THIS COMMENT:
By reading this comment, you agree to the following terms:
Reading of this comment shall cost 1 (one) beer, of your choice, with the exception of “Chili Beer”. Inability to provide delivery of said beverage within a reasonable timeframe, as defined by me, will consider you in violation of the Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) and a Computer Trespasser in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2)(C).

meh says:

Re: Re: Must be open season stupidity

Yes! But, I accept only if you provide immunity from your T&Cs!

I will also provide you a unlimited immunity from my T&Cs if you agree to consume a “Chili Beer” and provide positive feedback on it.

Amended T&Cs are below with the safeharbor are below.

———-
TERMS OF READING THIS COMMENT:
By reading this comment, you agree to the following terms:
Reading of this comment shall cost 1 (one) beer, of your choice, delivery of said beverage within a reasonable timeframe, as defined by me.

I. SAFEHARBOR
Additionally, persons may consume one (1) bottle of “Crazy Ed’s Cave Creek Chili Beer” and upon providing a positive review for it, the recipient shall receive unlimited unlimited viewing ability to my work.

Failure will consider you in violation of the Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) and a Computer Trespasser in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2)(C).

Anonymous Coward says:

For reasons too detailed to go into, I would expect that if the guilty verdict is upheld by the trial judge the case will immediately be appealed and likely overturned.

A civil action against Ms. Drew by the parents of the young girl is a totally different matter. In the event such a lawsuit is initiated, I expect that Ms. Drew will be in for a very unpleasant surprise…as well she should.

jonnyq says:

hate to be the voice of reason, but I think the facts of this case only applied to checkmarking “I agree” on a form that otherwise wouldn’t let you use the service. So, for example, this doesn’t apply to hiding a TOS link at the bottom of your page, but it does apply to any “I agree” checkbox you put on a signup form. So, Ralph from Alaska would only be “hacking” if he “agreed” to such a disclaimer when creating an account and continued to post.

It’s still ridiculous, but it’s better to point out the stupidity where it lies.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So, for example, this doesn’t apply to hiding a TOS link at the bottom of your page, but it does apply to any “I agree” checkbox you put on a signup form. So, Ralph from Alaska would only be “hacking” if he “agreed” to such a disclaimer when creating an account and continued to post.

But everyone involved in the case agreed that Lori Drew *did not* check the box because she was not the one who opened the account.

So, Kerr’s point is that even that minor obstacle doesn’t matter, as per the jury’s ruling in this case.

Bill M (profile) says:

Don't be ridiculous

Lori Drew is facing potential prison time because her TOS violations were *materially significant* (misrepresenting who she was, harassing another member) to the tragedy that ultimately occurred. She could not have gotten into that young girl’s head without pretending to be who she was not, and there would not have been a suicide if it weren’t for the cruel harassment inflicted. There is a REAL link between the violation of TOS and the HARM caused to others. It’s hard to imagine how having the middle name “Ralph” could injure anyone.

Sure we all hate long legal agreements, we all click through TOS checkboxes, etc. but we don’t all use websites with malicious intent like Lori Drew did. If this is the only crime they can find to prosecute this evil woman, then I say by all means, throw the book at her for it.

She didn’t become a criminal by simply breaking TOS… she became a criminal by intentionally and successfully f***king with a young girls’s mind, and she broke MySpace TOS as a necessary step in her plot to do so.

Her use of MySpace therefore was not innocent and the TOS were not trivial. Re-posting her lawyer’s pathetic rationalization like this is simply making TechDirt appear tone-deaf to the real issues here.

Bill M (profile) says:

Re: Re: Don't be ridiculous

No one can predict the future with 100% accuracy, it’s true. However, the woman’s actions make it clear that her intent was to get close to and injure the girl in a way that was only possible by deception.

She deliberately posed as an attractive young man. She deliberately romanced/courted the young girl under this false identity in order to gain her trust and intimacy. She deliberately inflicted emotional pain and told the girl, “The world would be a better place without you.”

Now, anyone hearing that from someone they were in love with would suffer. And it wouldn’t be the first time that someone took their life over a breakup. The difference here is this online persona was created with the specific intent to gather information that would not be possible using one’s actual identity, and to magnify the emotional impact of the sick game she was playing. Would Megan have been as upset if it was Sarah Drew or her mother trash-talking her? No. And this is why they created the fake profile.

If common sense morality doesn’t tell you this is wrong, I seriously doubt an obscure statute or paragraph in a TOS is going to stop you. It doesn’t matter that she didn’t read/accept it; last time I checked, ignorance of the law is not a defense…. and you DO have to click the box that says you accept these terms when you create an account.

No one *has* to use MySpace. No one forces you to click the “I accept the terms” box.

The Drews used MySpace as a weapon. Perhaps it was more effective than imagined, but they certainly were out to get revenge. I don’t think there’s any question about that, no matter how much they try to minimize it.

As for the Anonymous Coward who rolls out 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2)(C), it seems to me that “knowingly or recklessly” causing bolidly injury or death certainly applies here. Again, this was not something they could have pulled off without the fake profile.

There is no slippery slope. It doesn’t turn “everyone” into a criminal. If you don’t like a site’s TOS, don’t use that site. There is a difference between posting an off-topic comment and orchestrating an emotional attack on someone that leads to their death.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Don't be ridiculous

No one can predict the future with 100% accuracy, it’s true. However, the woman’s actions make it clear that her intent was to get close to and injure the girl in a way that was only possible by deception.

Not from any description I read. It sounded as if her intention was to find out what this girl was saying about her daughter.

She deliberately posed as an attractive young man. She deliberately romanced/courted the young girl under this false identity in order to gain her trust and intimacy.

Yes, in order to find out what the girl was saying. You are jumping to the conclusion that it was to cause pain.

She deliberately inflicted emotional pain and told the girl, “The world would be a better place without you.”

No, actually, that was Drew’s employee, not Drew.

If common sense morality doesn’t tell you this is wrong, I seriously doubt an obscure statute or paragraph in a TOS is going to stop you.

Ok. One more time. IF it was actually against the law, they would have charged her with a law for imposing that sort of emotional distress. They did not. Because it’s NOT AGAINST THE LAW to be a jerk. Don’t like it? Change the law.

But don’t abuse a DIFFERENT law, just because you’re upset that being a jerk is legal.

It doesn’t matter that she didn’t read/accept it; last time I checked, ignorance of the law is not a defense…. and you DO have to click the box that says you accept these terms when you create an account.

Seriously. Please don’t comment if you haven’t followed the lawsuit. An employee of Drew’s set up the account. Claiming that you have to check a box is meaningless, because Drew had nothing to do with setting up the account. This lawsuit got her for violating terms on an account she never agreed to the terms for.

The Drews used MySpace as a weapon. Perhaps it was more effective than imagined, but they certainly were out to get revenge. I don’t think there’s any question about that, no matter how much they try to minimize it.

Actually, there are significant questions about it.

There is no slippery slope. It doesn’t turn “everyone” into a criminal. If you don’t like a site’s TOS, don’t use that site. There is a difference between posting an off-topic comment and orchestrating an emotional attack on someone that leads to their death.

There is a huge slippery slope in using a law for something way outside of its intended purpose. I’m sorry that you can’t see that, but I pray that you never find yourself abused by a legal system in a similar manner. Hopefully people who actually recognize the threat will stand up to defend you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Don't be ridiculous

But don’t abuse a DIFFERENT law, just because you’re upset that being a jerk is legal.

Please… God forbid the sacred law should be abused. Laws are just ink on paper. They can be changed in a second.. Everyone is aware this is a case with very loose legal language. The main concern should be making Drew pay for what she did. Not protecting laws on the books..

Hey everyone, Let drew walk because we dont want to abuse a law. Yeah right… Thats not going to fly.

What Drew did was much then just being a jerk. And most everyone is aware of that. If you honestly feel Lori Drew was just a jerk your going to be very unhappy through the whole legal process here.

Two parents lost their kid here. Mike if your so emotionally involved in this case, go up and tell the two parents that Drew was just a jerk and should walk. If you really believe that you should not have a problem doing that. Go up face to face and say, “Hi, I am Mike Masnick. I have been following your case. I understand your upset. But really folks.. You should enourage the feds to drop this case. Because Drew was just a jerk and broke no law and should walk”. If you truly believe that Drew broke no law Mike you should have no problem with that. Because hey, If Drew did nothing wrong she should walk right???

Honestly Mike I dont even think you believe your own arguement.

Not Mike says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Don't be ridiculous

I would have no problem telling the Meiers just that, because it’s true. I’d recommend they pursue her in a civil case, but she’s not a criminal.

As to abusing laws — no, man forbid that the law be abused. Laws do not and can not change on a whim; that’s what we have Congress for. Once you allow any law to mean whatever it is you want it to mean at any given point in time, not only do you diminish the authority of the law, but you endanger everyone who lives under those laws. yes, there’s a lot involved in this case, but most of it doesn’t matter in the legal sense. What we have here is a charge of “unauthorized access,” a criminal hacking charge, because Drew broke MySpace’s ToS. A site’s ToS shouldn’t have the weight of federal law behind it, and that’s what this ruling would impose.

Once this ruling is on the books it doesn’t really matter what kind of “loose legal language” is being used. The prescedent will be set.

Drew broke no laws. To prevent this from happening again we can try and put appropriate laws in place, but that doesn’t change the way things are in this case. Drew SHOULD walk — and then she should be taken to civil court.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Don't be ridiculous

“As to abusing laws — no, man forbid that the law be abused”

Says the man who probably went a couple miles over the speed limit on their way to work (or wherever it is that you go).

No one is abusing any law here nor am I advocating the abuse of the law. The Feds are simply trying to impose a maximum sentence for the violation that is currently on the books. It was Mikes claim that the law is getting abused not mine. I was just emphasizing Mikes GREAT CONCERN over his interpretation of abuse in the case.

“Once you allow any law to mean whatever it is you want it to mean at any given point in time, not only do you diminish the authority of the law, but you endanger everyone who lives under those laws”

Thats not happening here either. Your almost sound as if your on the Drew defense team. Again the prosecution is attempting to get as much out of the TOS violation as they can. WE ALL KNOW THIS BY KNOW I HOPE!!! MOST EVERYONE IS AWARE OF THIS!!! WE ALL KNOW THAT THIS VIOLATION REALLY DOES NOT FIT VERY WELL WITH THE REAL REASON DREW IS IN COURT!!!!!

“Drew broke no laws.”

You are just wrong here.. The violation of TOS is what is at issue here..

“ToS shouldn’t have the weight of federal law behind it, and that’s what this ruling would impose.”

It does in this case because two parents lost a kid.

“Drew SHOULD walk –“

Thats your opinion and your entitled to it. BUT MANY PEOPLE DISAGREE WITH YOU!!! YOU DONT HAVE TO LIKE IT.. But thats how it is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Don't be ridiculous

ToS don’t have the weight of federal law. The Meiers lost their daughter, but it would be quite a pitch to peg her suicide on Drew. Even if you think the message of “The world would be better off without you” pushed the kid over the edge, Drew didn’t send that message.

It is my opinion, based on the fact that no law was broke, because breaking ToS is not hacking. This is NOT what the Congress enacted the law for, it was enacted to make computer hacking illegal. That’s why this is abuse of the law.

Likewise, speeding isn’t abuse of the law, it’s breaking the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Don't be ridiculous

WE ALL KNOW THAT THIS VIOLATION REALLY DOES NOT FIT VERY WELL WITH THE REAL REASON DREW IS IN COURT

You admit that Drew is in court under wrongful charges, then? If Drew is in court for some other reason, she should be charged for that reason.

Even aside from that, the point isn’t whether Drew deserves to be punished for what she did, it’s whether breaking terms of service is the same as “unauthorized access” under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Anthony (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Don't be ridiculous


Drew broke no laws. To prevent this from happening again we can try and put appropriate laws in place, but that doesn’t change the way things are in this case. Drew SHOULD walk — and then she should be taken to civil co

Why not just make a new law and charge her retrospectively? The US Federal court(as has Australia) have invented new laws to charge various people they believe are involved with terrorism(with some extremely flimsy evidence). They haven’t had a problem charging people for committing crimes that were legal at the time they committed them.

Lori definitely needs to pay for what she done. If you say it’s fine and perfectly legal, then she can’t even be taken to court for civil damages. She pretended to be another person to obtain information she would not be able to obtain if she presented herself truthfully. That is fraud.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Don't be ridiculous

If it’s true that courts are charging people for doing things that were legal when they were done, I have a moajor problem with that. Ignorance of the law is no defense, but lack of a law should be. Otherwise someone could make a law next week that it’s illegal to post on blogs and we’ll all be headed to jail. that just doesn’t make any sense.

I think that what she did regarding the ToS is essentially legal, and she shouldn’t be in court for it, criminal or civil. she should suffer the consequences of the ToS, which I believe is deletion of her account, but that’s where the authority of the ToS ends. What I don’t think is “perfectly OK” is the way she behaved through the whole ordeal. ‘Irrisponsible,’ ‘immature,’ ‘petty,’ and a number of other words come to mind. I don’t think there is or should be a law against any of it, per se, but a civil court is a much different animal than a criminal court. At that, though they couldn’t get criminal charges of negligence, child abuse, whatever, I think they would have a decent case in a civil court — the main difference, from what I can see, being the weight of prrof needed. A criminal court requires evidence beyond a reasonable doubt; civil court have a much lower threshold.

cloksin says:

Re: Don't be ridiculous

But did she actually kill the girl? No! She called her some bad names and made her feel really bad, that happens everyday all over the world without the use of computers. If you were to tell someone on the street that they should kill themselves, and then they actually go and do it, should you then be held accountable for it? I don’t think so. Where are the criminal negligence and child neglect cases against the girls parents for not paying enough attention to their daughter to realize that she was this depressed and get her the psycological help that she needed.

The point that is trying to be made here is that prosecutors are going out on a limb to try and find something to prosecute for, and that the reasons they have come up with pose a serious problem in terms of precedence and how the judicial system handles cases involving computers and the internet. The resulting consequences of this are bad for everyone, regardless of which side of the fence you are on with this case.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Don't be ridiculous

There is a REAL link between the violation of TOS and the HARM caused to others.

18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2)(C) specifies no such restriction. You seem to be making stuff up.

She didn’t become a criminal by simply breaking TOS…

Yes, according to the jury she did.

Re-posting her lawyer’s pathetic rationalization like this is simply making TechDirt appear tone-deaf to the real issues here.

Wow, you really don’t like people pointing out the truth, do you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Don't be ridiculous

“Her use of MySpace therefore was not innocent and the TOS were not trivial. Re-posting her lawyer’s pathetic rationalization like this is simply making TechDirt appear tone-deaf to the real issues here.”

Well yeah, TechDirt is very tone deaf to most all issues they blog about. It is very rare to see any attempt at balance on TechDirt. Most all bloggers echo the sentiments in the original post. Should anyone disagree, they get bomblasted with mass negativity. Much like you have Bill.

I have seen the issue discussed in many places. There are Harvard law professors who are worried about the loose legal grounding being used in this case. As it stands there really is not a law on the books that addresses exactly what Lori Drew did. Masnick feels he now has the power to make everyone a criminal now. He is joking of course. If you seriously feel every TOS violation is going to be prosecuted with the same level of intensity as the Drew case you are imagining things.

So here it is the situation. You value law over morals and ethics if you feel Drew should walk. If you feel Drew needs to pay some kind of penalty for what she did your going to support the violation of TOS charges. Personally I dont value law over the human element. I think Drew needs to pay for what she did. What the law says really dont matter. Because lawmakers make the law. And laws change every day. If the feds manage to get Drew on a TOS violation it wont bother me at all.

As for this humungous concern that the precedent that is going to be set in the case is going to be applied to all… Get real. Say Drew gets 15 years prison. Do you honestly think every TOS violator is going to get 15 years to. Hardly… the punishment will not fit the crime. So in essence thats why the system is the way it is. Thats why it can be bent and shaped to fit the situation.

JMG says:

Re: Re: Don't be ridiculous

As for this humungous concern that the precedent that is going to be set in the case is going to be applied to all… Get real. Say Drew gets 15 years prison. Do you honestly think every TOS violator is going to get 15 years to. Hardly… the punishment will not fit the crime. So in essence thats why the system is the way it is. Thats why it can be bent and shaped to fit the situation.

What crime? According to the charges, breaking the TOS was the only crime committed. Any punishment Lori Drew receives fits the crime of breaking a TOS. So, yes, if she were to get 15 years, I would expect any violator of a TOS to receive 15 years because it fits the crime.

JB says:

...terms subject to change without notice...

One major problem with this ruling is that even though someone may read the TOS and initially agree to the contract, there are those 6 little words that break the whole system. If I agree to a contract and then the terms change without my approval, then it would logically follow that I would not be held liable for any violations to the new terms.

Imagine if you took out a five-year loan for a car in the amount of $28,000 and after you send in the last payment, you get a called from a collection agency demanding you finish paying your $50,000 loan. You decide to fight the collection agency and discover in court that the initial loan contract you signed had a small disclaimer at the bottom that read, “These terms subject to change without notice.” The court orders you pay the full amount of the loan plus the court costs of the collection agency.

The major difference between a contract you sign in person and a click-through agreement is that you can make amendments to an in-person contract where both parties agree to the terms. In contrast, the click-through agreement has been setup by a group of lawyers you have never met and have no option other than to not use the service. EULAs have become larger contracts than purchasing a home and in many cases require a legal textbook to decipher. I don’t know what the solution is, but I know the current situation is biased heavily against the consumer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ...terms subject to change without notice...

I don’t know what the solution is, but I know the current situation is biased heavily against the consumer.

That’s why you should always have a competent lawyer review any legally binding agreement before you agree to it. Now that TOS’s are legally binding you need to have a lawyer with you when you surf the web. Failure to exercise such due diligence is no defense.

Materially Significant Other says:

Hello there!

Materially significant in that she significantly broke the TOS, for which she never accepted. On a side note before I begin, that decision does more to protect MySpace and the like than any other possible victim of cyber bullying.

Now, I do understand that this lady should be in prison, but NOT for violating a TOS she never read. That’s just silly. She should be in jail for breaking stalking, harassment, child abuse, or even conspiracy laws (i.e. conspiracy to endanger a minor). Otherwise is justice really served here?

I would say that vengeance might be served, but justice has not been. Justice in this case has been made a mockery of and if I was that little girl’s father I’d be pissed that this land of laws and lawyers can’t properly prosecute an adult who has deliberately tormentted my child to the point of suicide for their own laughter.

That’s where your passion should be in this case… sheesh… Otherwise, this WILL happen again.

Mark Anderson says:

Offending sensibilities a crime?

Not that I am in any way defending this lady’s behavior, but this case sets the precedence to theoretically go after anybody who hurts another’s feelings, or offends somebody’s sensibilities. Suppose you start dating somebody through an online dating site, and then break up with that person, and that person commits suicide. Are you responsible for their suicide now?

Not that this lady was behaving the way she should have, but this girl was obviously a very fragile person, and could have ended up taking her life for some other reason down the road. Is this lady responsible for the fragility of this teenager?

If she had hurt this girl’s feelings WITHOUT the use of the internet, that would have been equally bad. But would that have been a crime? So the central issue here seems to be the use of the internet. Thus anybody who hurts somebody’s feelings over the internet is now going to get punished?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Offending sensibilities a crime?

If her ‘intent’ was to cause psychological harm to the other person then yes it is a crime, and that seems more than obvious given the evidence and logs of their interactions. If I as an individual meet you in person, then use technology currently available to cause psychological harm to you during our meeting… would I not be guilty of a crime? The answer is yes, if what I was doing could be shown to have been deliberate and intended to cause you harm.

No matter how fragile the girl was before their meeting and communications, she was influenced toward taking her life by someone else knowingly. If you do the same, you should be punished, whether you use the internet or a phone or any other medium to accomplish that coercive agenda.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Offending sensibilities a crime?


No matter how fragile the girl was before their meeting and communications, she was influenced toward taking her life by someone else knowingly. If you do the same, you should be punished, whether you use the internet or a phone or any other medium to accomplish that coercive agenda

Fine. Then punish her with an actual law concerning causing harm. The problem is that she BROKE NO SUCH LAW. Prosecutors looked, and found no such law. So they charged her as a computer hacker.

Do you not see the problem?

Brad says:

Contract Laws

So last time I checked, TOS was considered a “contract”. I put that in quotes because it is clearly not a contract, but a set of rules you agree to abide by in order to use a private system. I think of it more like that big sign at the entrance to a water park that says “No Running”. But that aside, the case clearly shows that she was not the one who “agreed” to these rules. So am I now bound to use contracts I don’t agree to, when someone (lacking power of attorney) signs on my behalf?

Cygnus says:

This Lori Drew case is a situation where equity has been applied where the law was somewhat vague. Adults who torment children should be punished. This is especially true in situations where an outrageous (even if unexpected) result follows. As is well known in tort, you take your victim as you find him. Hopefully, the parents of this little girl will sue these same adults civilly. Perhaps a nice little bankruptcy will bring the point home.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Banning Alaskans is not enforecable

It does not have to be ‘enforceable’ in order to qualify as a term of service you must have agreed to before using the service. It does not have to be possible to prevent Alaskans from using the web service in order to make it a violation of the service’s TOS for an Alaskan to use it. Whether Alaskans could circumvent it has nothing to do with whether they are allowed to.

Tamara says:

Pretending to be another person to extort information(which Lori Drew did) should be illegal. Think about the issue if it’s made legal. Someone pretends to be you and contacts your wife/husband asking for certain confidential information. Your partner passes that on. You should be able to sue them if you wish to. And if they published the information elsewhere (which Lori Drew did) then you should be able to press charges against them. An example – Someone pretends to be you contacting your wife/husband asking for naked photos. They send them to the fake you. They then publish them all over the Internet. According to you, you should not be able to sue them or press charges against them. That is exactly what Lori Drew did – except instead of photos it was private thoughts, and instead of being an adult she was fooling it was a minor.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Pretending to be another person to extort information(which Lori Drew did) should be illegal

How did she “extort” information?

Either way, if doing so was illegal, then charge her for that. The problem we’re discussing is that she was not charged with that. She was charged with computer hacking.

Think about the issue if it’s made legal. Someone pretends to be you and contacts your wife/husband asking for certain confidential information. Your partner passes that on. You should be able to sue them if you wish to.

You are quite confused. There are fraud statutes already on the books. But none of them applied here. This was not a case of getting confidential info through fraudulent means.

And if they published the information elsewhere (which Lori Drew did) then you should be able to press charges against them

Huh? What confidential info did Lori Drew publish elsewhere?

It’s as if people are so blinded by the tragedy of the case that they prefer to make up facts.

An example – Someone pretends to be you contacting your wife/husband asking for naked photos. They send them to the fake you.

That would be identify fraud, and there are laws against that.

This case DOES not involve any sort of identity fraud (pretending to be a real person in order to make use of that person’s fame, money or position). Creating a fake persona is not the same thing.

According to you, you should not be able to sue them or press charges against them

No. Please. Seriously. Learn to read.

Suing someone for identity fraud is fine, if they committed identity fraud.

In this case (a) no identity fraud was committed and (b) the charges were not for identity fraud, but for hacking.

Is it really that difficult for you to understand these simple facts?

Tamara says:

Re: Re: Re:


How did she “extort” information?

By pretending to be somebody else getting Megan’s private thoughts that she would not have been able to get by being herself.


Huh? What confidential info did Lori Drew publish elsewhere?

It’s well known that Lori sent all of Megans private(ie. confidential) conversations with “Josh”, to all of Megan’s friends and published them on message boards. Conversations which contained highly private thoughts.


That would be identify fraud, and there are laws against that.

And what do you think Lori was doing? She was pretending to be Josh Evans. It’s no different. Lori’s goal was to get highly private information from Megan to publish to the rest of the world(which she did). It’s no different to someone getting private photos of someone by pretending to be someone else.

And it won’t be identity fraud either – it will be computer fraud. Same as what Lori was charged with. Identity fraud is getting false documents, opening accounts, etc. Not just emailing the friend/wife of the person you opened a fake email account with.


Is it really that difficult for you to understand these simple facts?

Is it really that difficult for you to understand that there is no difference between Lori Drew pretending to be Josh Evans, than it is for Joshua Taylor pretending to be George Simpson?

Tamara says:

Re: Re: Re:

Sorry stuffed the formatting in the other post up

How did she “extort” information?

By pretending to be somebody else getting Megan’s private thoughts that she would not have been able to get by being herself.

Huh? What confidential info did Lori Drew publish elsewhere?

It’s well known that Lori sent all of Megans private(ie. confidential) conversations with “Josh”, to all of Megan’s friends and published them on message boards. Conversations which contained highly private thoughts.

That would be identify fraud, and there are laws against that.

And what do you think Lori was doing? She was pretending to be Josh Evans. It’s no different. Lori’s goal was to get highly private information from Megan to publish to the rest of the world(which she did). It’s no different to someone getting private photos of someone by pretending to be someone else.

And it won’t be identity fraud either – it will be computer fraud. Same as what Lori was charged with. Identity fraud is getting false documents, opening accounts, etc. Not just emailing the friend/wife of the person you opened a fake email account with.

Is it really that difficult for you to understand these simple facts?

Is it really that difficult for you to understand that there is no difference between Lori Drew pretending to be Josh Evans, than it is for Joshua Taylor pretending to be George Simpson?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

By pretending to be somebody else getting Megan’s private thoughts that she would not have been able to get by being herself.

That’s not extortion. Nor is it illegal. Getting someone to share their own private thoughts is not illegal.

Please cite the law that makes it illegal.

It’s well known that Lori sent all of Megans private(ie. confidential) conversations with “Josh”, to all of Megan’s friends and published them on message boards. Conversations which contained highly private thoughts.

Uh. No. That’s simply not true. It was shared among a small group of folks who were involved in the accounts, but they were not published on message boards.

And what do you think Lori was doing? She was pretending to be Josh Evans. It’s no different.

Yes, it’s quite different. In fact, I outlined WHY it was different in my post, which you ignored. I can only guess as to why you would do that.

To repeat: identity fraud is pretending to be a real person in order to make use of that person’s fame, money or position.

Note the factors: pretending to be a REAL person, and then using some established part of that REAL person’s identity for advantage. And that crime is AGAINST the person who’s identity they used. Since there is no real Josh Evans here, there was no identity fraud.

And, even if there WAS identity fraud (granting you your ridiculous premise), then she should have been charged with identity fraud. She wasn’t. So don’t convict her of a different crime.

It’s no different to someone getting private photos of someone by pretending to be someone else.

Uh, again, that’s a totally different scenario again.

And it won’t be identity fraud either – it will be computer fraud. Same as what Lori was charged with.

Uh, no. You really ought to stop digging, ’cause this hole your in is getting deeper and deeper.

Lori was charged, quite specifically, with violating computer hacking laws by disobeying a ToS. It had nothing to do with what she later did with that account.

Is it really that difficult for you to understand that there is no difference between Lori Drew pretending to be Josh Evans, than it is for Joshua Taylor pretending to be George Simpson?

Um. I have no clue who those people are, so I’m not quite sure what point you’re trying to make.

However, I will note, again, that you ignore the point I raised.

I can only conclude that you are so blinded by an emotional response that you will ignore all of the facts that show why you’re wrong. Tragic.

Tamara says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:


Um. I have no clue who those people are, so I’m not quite sure what point you’re trying to make.

They’re no one in particular. Both made up names. But it’s exactly my point. You hate some women who was your boss at work. You make up a name, pretend to be into her, get her to send you nude photos, and make those photos available to all of the others you recruit to assist you. With her never knowing it is actually you who is doing it. Your aim was to humiliate her.

That is illegal. It’s fraud. What Lori did is far worse. She involved a minor, and has admitted her discussions with Megan turned sexual.

And the biggie – she tried to cover it up. She saw the ambulance, and instead of going over, apologising and admitting what she did, what did she do? She deleted the profile and told all others involved to stay quiet. She even mourned with the family.

If she admitted what she done, she wouldn’t be hated much, possibly still charged, but with very minor offenses. If someone hits a pedestrian while driving killing them, and stops and admits what he did, then he might not even be charged (unless he was drunk, high level speeding, etc.) But if he drove off, then he’ll be charged and widely despised. And if caught they will face substantially tougher sentences than someone that admits they made a mistake. Lori is that speedster who tried to cover his crime up. That’s why she’s hated. Not because of what she did. But because she tried to cover it up.

And I have no idea where you get your news from, but all the news in Australia (TV, newspapers, Internet and radio) have said that Lori Drew was charged(amongst other charges) computer fraud.

Twinrova says:

Do ANY of you posters read ToS statements at all?

“in order to demonstrate how easy it is for any website to turn pretty much everyone into a criminal”

Believe it or not, I actually read these things now because I’m tired of companies firing back “but it was in the service agreement you accepted”. It’s actually appalling what these idiots put in them and, because it’s considered a contract, can get away with it.

In fact, most DO treat you like a criminal because it assumes you’re out to destroy the interwebs.

It is inconceivable any law jurisdiction would manipulate the existing laws to charge someone for a crime they didn’t commit. It’s quite obvious many of you don’t understand what really happened and run your damn mouth off because Fox News told you what happened.

It seems, in this particular case, the public didn’t read the ToS by the prosecuting attorney, which states they have the right to change the law as they see fit.

My question to you all: Why aren’t you upset when laws are broken for other suicides happening every day? Oh, right, because apparently a parent wasn’t involved, so you don’t give a damn. Especially when the parent turned the other way when it was clear their child was in trouble.

I’m especially dumbfounded with several comments made about how Lori drove Megan to suicide, which isn’t what happened at all.

Megan was a troubled girl and given she thought life sucked, it would have taken much more than a damn MySpace account to save her.

Or do you idiots not realize this.

Oh, shit! I called you an idiot! Going to sue me over hacking charges now or does the point finally sink in?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Do ANY of you posters read ToS statements at all?

It’s actually appalling what these idiots put in them and, because it’s considered a contract, can get away with it.

The trouble is — and the reason I don’t bother — is what are you going to do? In lots of cases it doesn’t matter if you read the terms, you either agree or you’re denied service. At best you might be able to go to a competitor, but in a lot of (most?) cases they have the same terms in their agreement.

The infamous Joe says:

Go kill yourself.

The world would be a better place without you. Uh oh! According to Tamara I should go to jail, as my name is not actually “the infamous joe” and if someone reads my title and kills themself later (is there a time frame??) then I as good as killed them with my bare hooks! (I don’t have hands… Or do I?)

Listen to Mike, if this insanity sticks you can bet big companies in fear of their fading business model are going to find a way to use it against us.

perilisk says:

“Please… God forbid the sacred law should be abused. Laws are just ink on paper. They can be changed in a second.. Everyone is aware this is a case with very loose legal language. The main concern should be making Drew pay for what she did. Not protecting laws on the books..”

If you support extrajudicial punishment, as the prosecutor obviously did and managed to swing the judge and jury onto his side, why bother with a trial? Tar and feather her, or lynch her if the charges are serious enough. Same result, without wasting the money of law-abiding taxpayers.

Oh, wait, then law-abiding people would then punish -you-. I guess the driving factor was cowardice, not morality.

Daniel says:

To those defending the judgment:

Drew’s intention wasn’t to see this girl dead. What she did was mean, but it wasn’t criminal. It’s not her fault the girl was so screwed up in the head that she’d kill herself because someone she’d never met told her to. I wouldn’t. Would you? Can you honestly conceive of anyone who doesn’t belong in an institution killing themself because someone told them to? I doubt Drew could either.

I’ve seen people in the *real* world do much crueller things than this, and their targets didn’t commit suicide. I’ve been on the receiving end of some of it, but I’m not a nutcase, so I’m still alive and breathing. Megan is dead because her head wasn’t screwed on right, and nobody took the time to notice or act. I understand that this is very sad, and a lot of people would love to bust out the torches and pitchforks and have themselves a good ol’ fashion witch hunt, but these are (supposed to be) civilized times founded on the law.

Do you know how many people use fake names on MySpace? Just how many profiles does Britney Spears have, anyway?
“Marlboro Man”? That’s an odd name. “Turtle Power”. Parents getting creative?

They’re not being prosecuted, because they’re not fucking hacking.
Drew is being prosecuted because you all want to see her burn at the stake, all because she was mean (which I’m sure you’ve been at least once or twice in your life) and this poor, innocent girl went off the deep end and hung herself in her closet.

Remember that girlfriend you intentionally made jealous?
How about that ex-wife you screamed that you hated hated hated, and you keyed his car? Or cut out his pockets? Or did anything at all to deliberately hurt him?
Let’s pretend that they killed themselves, because YOU pushed them over their ridiculously slippery edge.
Should we prosecute you for every strand of fiber in a piece of lint that fell out of your pocket while you were doing it?
FOUR HUNDRED COUNTS OF LITTERING!
You’ve gotta pay. Let’s get the stake.
It’s time to burn.

Screw the spirit of the law.
Screw justice.
As long as we have a bad guy to ROAST, we’re all good!

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