My Space Hoax Conviction Thrown Out

This is the case of the mother who impersonated an adolescent boy on MySpace in order to hurt a girl who was a rival of her daughter by leading her on and then rejecting her.  They succesfully prosecuted her on the grounds that she violated MySpace’s terms of service.   But the judge’s reasoning in overturning the verdict sounds wise:

U.S. District Court Judge George Wu threw out the misdemeanor convictions of Lori Drew, the Missouri woman blamed for precipitating the suicide of a 13-year-old girl by assisting a cruel MySpace prank, under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Taking a cue from critics such as George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr (who ended up serving as a pro bono attorney for Drew), Wu said he was worried that the legal theory underlying U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien’s prosecution of Drew could make any violation of a website’s terms of service a federal crime. “It basically leaves it up to a website owner to determine what is a crime,” Wu said, “and therefore it criminalizes what would be a breach of contract.”

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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