A jury convicted Lori Drew of breaking MySpace’s terms of service, possibly sending her to prison for years, if the verdict stands up on appeal.
Why? Because she was involved in setting up a fake MySpace account, posing as a teenage boy, in order to mess with the emotions of a psychologically fragile teenage girl who had been nasty to her daughter. The teenage girl ended up committing suicide, and now people want to blame someone. And technically, Lori might have run afoul of federal computer fraud laws, even though those laws were supposedly never intended to address this situation.
The bad part about this case is that it only reinforces that federal prosecutors can convict almost anybody they want to, because we almost everybody has done something that is technically against federal criminal law. And most of us have also done at least one stupid thing online that might have pissed off someone else.
You see, the federal code is full of over-harsh laws. (Years in the federal pen for violating MySpace’s terms of service?! Get some perspective.) And this law wasn’t even applied correctly, because federal computer crime laws were intended (supposedly) to protect peoples’ credit card numbers and other sensitive information stored on computer. And rooting for a misapplication of an unfair law just to get even hurts us all, because it makes it more likely that the next victim who wants to get even will want to get even with you or me.
OK. Rant over. (For now.)