Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

Jesse Brown:15 years for violating MySpace’s Terms of Use?

By Jesse Brown, CBC technology columnist.

Millions of people pretend to be someone they’re not on the internet. On the scale of fraud, I’d say most people consider creating a fake online persona to be slightly less harmful than, say, sneaking in to a movie.

Then again, most fake online identities don’t result in suicide.

Missouri mom Lori Drew, along with her daughter and an employee, are alleged to have created a fictitious dreamboat boyfriend named Josh Evans to torment their 13 year-old neighbour, Megan Meier. “Josh” romanced Megan and then turned on her, telling her that “the world would be a better place without you.” Megan hanged herself.

Missouri law was powerless to do anything about the alleged impersonation. But now, two years after Megan’s death, Drew is on trial before a federal grand jury in Los Angeles. Why L.A.? Because that’s where MySpace’s servers are located.

The criminal charges against Lori Drew are one count of conspiracy and three counts of “illegally accessing computers”. Though the law has traditionally been used against hackers, in this case the prosecution is arguing that violating MySpace’s Terms Of Use qualifies. The TOU requires “truthful and accurate" registration information. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

But this potentially precedent-setting case has problems:

  • When you break a law on the internet, whose jurisdiction are you in? The place you were in at the time? Or maybe where the recipient is? Or is it where the servers are stored? This case suggests that when the authorities are mad enough, it’s wherever the laws are stiffest.
  • Can violating an online TOU be considered a federal crime, punishable by imprisonment? Long, confusing, non-negotiable TOU agreements are clicked by millions every day: often by minors, and often on sites like MySpace, which many kids look at as a casual entertainment.

You don’t have to sign a contract before watching Hannah Montana, and I question how binding a MySpace TOU should really be. In any event, I hope that this isn’t the case to decide the point.

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.

Comments

Alex

Winnipeg

See now I think people like this need to be nailed to the wall (not actually thought I'm not for capital punishment). Actions they took with the intent to hurt her ended in her death, and there needs to be answers for this. The Mom is the worst in all this with a daughter of her own, I can't believe a grown person would be such a child. They deserve some kind of punishment, I think what ever we can find is good.

Posted November 19, 2008 07:33 PM

Gordon Chamberlain

It would be an interesting article to see what our politician have done to protect Canadians from harrasment, bullying, intimidation and malliscious intent by others on the internet

Posted November 20, 2008 10:14 PM

Chris

winipeg

I agree with Alex, the mother come across like a very imature and unresponsible person. crushing someones heart online for fun is the same as bullying in my opinon and should be punished.

oh, and for the record I agree with capital punishment in limited forms. the strap is an excellent deterant and brought me back to the real world when I was grossly out of line.

Posted November 22, 2008 10:58 AM

Webber

BC

Have you ever read the terms of service on some of these sites?
They can be pretty scary, if you take them all as law.
If by agreeing to a sites TOU you are opening yourself to prosecution, we will have to be very very careful.
There should be consequences, but how far should the law go in enforcing arbitrary agreements like this?

Posted November 26, 2008 04:39 PM

Mike Parniak

Calgary

This is a truly reprehensible judgment. While Drew's actions were undeniably mean and puerile, especially considering the age of the girl she was acting against, being a jackass is not, in itself, illegal.

Did she set out with the genuine intention to cause the death of Megan Meier? Unlikely. Did she break into anyone else's account to do it? No. The law used as an excuse to perform what is little more than a mob lynching would result in the imprisonment of more than 90% of internet users. People misrepresent themselves everywhere, for various reasons. The law was not about forcing people to be honest, it was meant to prosecute those who hijack other people's accounts.

As much as we may (correctly) think Drew is slime, it doesn't give us free permission to pervert the justice system to administer arbitrary justice based on our dislike for the woman.

Any code of ethics that one does not hold to when it is not convenient to do so, is not a code of ethics at all.

Badly, badly done LA.

Posted December 3, 2008 06:12 AM

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

Post a Comment

Disclaimer:

Note: By submitting your comments you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that due to the volume of e-mails we receive, not all comments will be published, and those that are published will not be edited. But all will be carefully read, considered and appreciated.

Note: Due to volume there will be a delay before your comment is processed. Your comment will go through even if you leave this page immediately afterwards.

Privacy Policy | Submissions Policy

Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

Updated Trump bars transgender people from military service 'in any capacity'
U.S. President Donald Trump vowed on Twitter on Wednesday that under his administration, transgender individuals wouldn't be allowed to serve in the U.S. military in any capacity, statements that appeared to take politicians in Congress as well as the Pentagon by surprise.
Venezuela's opposition leader calls for 48-hour strike before election
Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has released the first direct message since his release on house arrest this month, calling on Venezuelans to support a 48-hour general strike.
Congressman Steve Scalise released from hospital 6 weeks after shooting
Congressman Steve Scalise, who was critically wounded in a shooting at a baseball practice last month, has been discharged from a Washington hospital.
more »

Canada »

Supreme Court quashes seismic testing in Nunavut, but gives green light to Enbridge pipeline video
The Supreme Court of Canada has quashed plans for seismic testing in Nunavut, delivering a major victory to Inuit who argued they were inadequately consulted before the National Energy Board gave oil companies the go-ahead to conduct disruptive testing.
Updated Via Rail terror plotter to appeal life sentence
One of the men convicted of plotting to derail a Via passenger train between New York and Toronto is now being treated for schizophrenia and wants to appeal his life sentence, court heard on Wednesday.
Botched procurement delays inflatable boats for military
It seemed a straightforward deal — an order for 350 inflatable boats for the military. But Public Services and Procurement Canada has had to cancel a $6.4-million deal and start from scratch after bureaucrats twice messed up the tendering process.
more »

Politics »

Supreme Court quashes seismic testing in Nunavut, but gives green light to Enbridge pipeline video
The Supreme Court of Canada has quashed plans for seismic testing in Nunavut, delivering a major victory to Inuit who argued they were inadequately consulted before the National Energy Board gave oil companies the go-ahead to conduct disruptive testing.
Analysis Cruise missile threat biggest priority in upcoming Norad makeover video
The Trudeau government is committed in its recent defence policy to overhaul Norad in lockstep with Washington. But it could be a costly venture that forces Canada to make tough political and military decisions.
Botched procurement delays inflatable boats for military
It seemed a straightforward deal — an order for 350 inflatable boats for the military. But Public Services and Procurement Canada has had to cancel a $6.4-million deal and start from scratch after bureaucrats twice messed up the tendering process.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Justin Trudeau, dubbed 'The North Star,' lands Rolling Stone cover
'Is Canada's prime minister the free world's best hope?' Rolling Stone magazine seems to thinks so, with its flattering cover feature about Justin Trudeau.
Wonder Woman storms back into theatres December 2019
Warner Bros. have announced Wonder Woman 2 will be flying into theatres December 2019, but who will direct?
New Just For Laughs Festival announces expansion to continent of Africa in 2018
The Montreal-based comedy brand has joined forces with a South Africa-based conglomerate to launch the new venture.
more »

Technology & Science »

Can we create life from scratch? Scientists start with yeast
The research may reveal basic, hidden rules that govern the structure and functioning of genomes. But it could also open the door to life with new and useful characteristics.
Wisconsin company offers microchip implants to employees
A Wisconsin vending machine company is offering its employees a chance to have a microchip implanted in their hands that they could use to buy snacks, log in to computers or use the copy machine.
Concerns raised over secretive spyware company's rumoured sale
NSO Group sells spy software that has been used to target activists and journalists — but will the company's potential buyer care?
more »

Money »

TSA expands rules for inspecting large electronics at all U.S. airports
Passengers at all U.S. airports will soon face new measures for screening electronic devices bigger than a cellphone.
Deal to share passenger info between EU and Canada struck down on privacy concerns
A deal between the European Union and Canada to share airline passenger data must be revised as parts of it violate privacy and data protection laws beyond what could be justified for fighting terrorism, the EU's top court said.
New Strong risk remains in Canada's housing market, CMHC says
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is keeping its overall risk rating for the national housing market at strong.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Live Watch Kylie Masse swim for another medal at the world championships video
Watch live swimming action from the the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Kylie Masse and the Canadian mixed 4x100 medley team will go for a medal in the final of their event.
Coming Up Watch Pan Am Cup volleyball from Quebec video
Watch live action Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET from the men's volleyball Pan Am Cup event in Gatineau, Que. Canada faces Puerto Rico at 8 p.m. ET.
Coming Up Watch Canada's women's water polo team in the semifinals at worlds video
Watch live Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET as Canada faces Spain in the women's water polo semifinals at the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »