Lori Drew Convicted on Three Misdemeanor Counts of Violating MySpace Terms of Service in “Cyberbullying” Case
By Brian Kozlowski – Edited By Stephanie Weiner
United States v. Drew, 08-CR-582
A federal jury convicted Lori Drew on November 26th on three of four misdemeanor counts of unauthorized computer access under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (”CFAA”), 18 U.S.C. § 1030, for violating the MySpace terms of service. Drew was acquitted of three felony counts of accessing computers without authorization to inflict emotional harm under the same act. The case has raised widespread objection to the use of criminal liability for violating website terms of service.
The case revolves around the 2006 suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier following an argument she had on MySpace with “Josh Evans,” a fictional 16-year-old boy whose profile was created under the supervision of Lori Drew. During the 28 days that the account was active, “Josh” established an online relationship with Meier that ended with harsh words and the involvement of other MySpace users. Creation of the fictional account using false information was a violation of the MySpace terms of service, which served as the basis for the computer fraud charges. The prosecution argued, and the jury found, that Drew’s subsequent visits to the MySpace site, in violation of the terms of service, were “unauthorized access” under the terms of the CFAA. Critics point out that this is a very creative use of the CFAA, which is typically used to target hacking and trademark theft. This is the first time it has been used in this fashion.
The New York Times describes the trial outcome, building on an earlier piece from 2007 that gives more factual background on the events. Court documents for the case are hosted on Citizen Media Law Project. (more…)