Some thoughts on the Lori Drew cyberbullying case that lead to the death of Megan Meier

I'm listening to Buzz Out Loud Ep. 1054 and one of the topics is about the Terms of Service (TOS) that users must agree to when accessing most websites these days. They're specifically referring to MySpace because there was a court case brought against Lori Drew alleging violation of the TOS. Here is an ArsTechnica article that provides more background on the case, but essentially this woman impersonated her daughter on MySpace and taunted her daughter's friend until that person committed suicide. The problem is, there's no law on the books that properly deals with a situation like this. Since they had no way to charge her for causing the death of this other person, they tried to nail her for a TOS violation. Specifically, they tried to charge her with illegal access to the systems.

The judge threw out the case stating that, although Drew's actions were reprehensible, simply logging in as her daughter or creating a fake account doesn't constitute "unauthorized access." The hosts of the podcast agreed with this decision and I think I also agree.  TOS violations should not, in themselves, be criminal offenses, misdemeanor or otherwise. If there's been a violation, then the site owner has to right to boot the user accused of the violation and even file a civil suit if appropriate, but criminal charges should be saved for people who are really breaking the law. As unjust as this particular case appears to be, if they can't charge her with causing the death of Megan Meier through murder, manslaughter, or whatever, they shouldn't be twisting other parts of the system into knots trying to find other ways.

So the bottom line is this woman caused the death of another person through her actions and it appears that she's going to get away with it. Our legal system was created hundreds of years ago and is not equipped to handle many situations that are created by the advancements in technology that we've enjoyed in recent years. Trying to shoehorn these cases, which could never have been anticipated by our founding fathers, is what allows worthless individuals like this to avoid punishment for such unspeakable crimes.

Of course, in fairness, I do have to make one other point.  Although this was a tragic story and I hope this haunts Lori Drew for the rest of her life, I have to question the emotional stability of Megan Meier in the first place. I'm not saying I know what she went through, because I don't, but I've seen bullying and harassment first-hand. I have a good idea what it looks like. I have to wonder if harassment of this nature is sufficient to cause an otherwise stable individual to commit suicide. Did Megan already have emotional issues that made her particularly vulnerable and susceptible to this kind of abuse? I'm not letting Drew off the hook. I think she's a despicable human being for attacking a 13 year old in this way. I'm just not sure if 1. murder was the intent, and 2. if the suicide was 100% Lori Drew's doing.

Posted via email from Kevin’s Ramblings


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