The 49 year old woman, Lori Drew, who engaged in destructive discussions with 13 year old Megan Meier; will be charged under federal law for her acts that lead to the suicide of Megan. However, this incident does pose some interesting legal challenges.
Personally, I believe Lori Drew should be charged for manslaughter and placed on a permanent ban from using computers since she clearly misused it to deceive Megan Meier into committing suicide. But of course, the laws of today are far outdated for this type of application.
She however will be charged under the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act — which is very broad in what it covers. Essentially, because she violated MySpace’s End User License Agreement (EULA). Specifically, she used falsified account information (age, name, etc.). Because of this, she becomes a “hacker,” which obviously she’s not — she’s a criminal who had engaged in a egregious amount of mischief with a minor.
Some say this is going to become a legal precedent. I don’t think so, but certainly it will be looked at when it comes to liability of crimes acted out by users and determining who ultimately is liable.
If any company should be concerned it, it should be MySpace. If a judge decides that MySpace was negligent in verifying user information, they could be forced to go through a lengthy process to verify the age and essentially, the identity, of their users. Trust me, I don’t think MySpace has a lot of 100+ year old users; and it would lead to a huge mess. What about safety? Some people (including me) don’t publish everything that is 100% bona-fide accurate on MySpace. Of course, this would have its own legal challenges in verifying the identity of minors and essentially, MySpace could become [sic] regulated to death.
This is the problem with the court system in America. If someone doesn’t fit into the exact models of a criminal, they get off. From what I understand, I can say beyond reasonable doubt, Lori’s actions lead to the immediate and premature death of Megan. Why can’t the court system understand that?
I’m not a lawyer, so I wouldn’t know about the exact impact of this. I just hope that the Internet doesn’t become regulated from this.