The Dubious Indictment of Lori Drew
While the degree of moral fault assignable to Lori Drew as the cause of Megan Meier's death is open to debate, it is unquestionable that Megan's suicide is tragic. That sad reality does not justify stretching federal laws against identity theft and computer-aided fraud in an effort to prosecute as a federal crime (in Los Angeles, no less) Drew's use of a fabricated MySpace account to send mean messages to Megan, her neighbor in O'Fallon, a suburb of St. Louis.
With the help of others, Drew allegedly created a MySpace account under the fictitious name of Josh Evans. "Josh" engaged in an email flirtation with 13-year-old Megan before telling her in a final message that the world would be better off without her. Megan hung herself shortly after reading that message and died the next day. More detailed background is available here and here.
The indictment (pdf) charges Drew with using a computer in O'Fallon to access the MySpace server in California, "without authorization and in excess of authorized access," to obtain information from the MySpace computer to further the tortious act of inflicting emotional distress upon Megan. The "without authorization" allegation is grounded in the claim that Drew violated her "Terms of Service" agreement by lying to MySpace when she created an account in a fictitious name.
Think about that one for a minute. (more...)
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