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 Tuesday, September 01, 2009
MySpace suicide case: conviction overturned

Federal judge George Wu officially overturned the conviction of Lori Drew, who was convicted of cyberbullying 13-year-old Megan Meier to suicide. That conviction was based on the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which makes it a crime to intentionally accessing a computer system with intent to commit a crime or tort.

But that law, the judge found, cannot be stretched so far that it would include mere violations of website terms of service. Something more than violating a TOS is needed. Otherwise, the law would “convert a multitude of otherwise innocent Internet users into misdemeanant criminals.”

At trial, the jury found Drew guilty of misdemeanor violations of CFAA based on the theory that accessing MySpace with intent to harrass Meier was an unauthorized access of an interstate computer. The verdict drew consternation because it seemed to suggest that merely violating a website’s terms of service could be the basis for criminal prosecution.

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ITU Global Cybersecurity Agenda