Law School Discussion

MySpace Suicide Case

MySpace Suicide Case
« on: November 26, 2008, 12:37:11 PM »
Many on this board might not know about this case, but it's from my city so we all know about it here. For those that don't know about the case here's a link to MSNBC about it

Basically she was found guilty of three counts of accessing a computer without authorization. Each count is punishable by up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. She was not found guilty of felony charges of accessing a computer without authorization to inflict emotional distress on a young girl. So she's basically been found guilty of creating a false profile on MySpace, but not of using that false profile to harass someone.

Do you agree with the jury's decision? Should you be put in jail for up to a year for creating a false profile on MySpace? If these convictions stick, what effect could this have on other sites...say LSD? No one on this site uses their real name, so couldn't that be seen as a false profile? Do we really want to say that if you don't use your real name on social networking sites, you could go to jail?

Anybody have any thoughts on this?

Re: MySpace Suicide Case
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2008, 12:51:56 PM »
I see your point but I think in this case the internet (MySpace) was simply a tool to harass and cause IIED. It was not about phony accounts or use of the internet. They could have used personal ads in the newspaper or a single's phone line, the outcome would have been the same.  It seems like the mother and her daughter targeted this 13-year-old girl and lead her to suicide, which is what the prosecution wanted to punish them for.

Good article, thanks for bringing it up.

Re: MySpace Suicide Case
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2008, 01:13:24 PM »
That's exactly what I thought too...except she wasn't found guilty of using MySpace to inflict IIED, they rejected that charge. She was only found guilty of "accessing a computer without authorization". Obviously if there was no suicide, she would not have been charged. However, this is the criminal side of this case. I'm sure there will be a civil suit and the IIED will be the main issue, but IIED was rejected in the criminal case so I don't really feel like she should potentially be put in jail for "accessing a computer without authorization" i.e. creating a false profile.

I agree she should be punished...punished for harassing a girl into killing herself. Unfortunately, there weren't any laws against cyber bullying when this happened (there are now). So I kind of feel like the only punishment she should get is through a civil suit, and we shouldn't be stretching an anti-hacking law to cover this case just because of the outrage over what happened.

Re: MySpace Suicide Case
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2008, 01:24:35 PM »
My prediction is that the conviction will get overturned on appeal and the legislature will take up the cause by enacting some sort of state law to prevent "cyberbullying."  So the end result will be that this case served to push the law in one direction even if the psycho-b!tch mother walks.