Web Hoax Conviction Under Attack

A jury found Lori Drew guilty of three misdemeanor counts of accessing computers without authorization, in violation of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. In the past, that law has primarily been used in hacking and trademark theft cases. Use in the manner Drew was convicted is unprecedented. Drew faces up to a $300,000 fine and three years in prison.

 

Drew was accused of involvement in a hoax in which she helped create a fictitious 16-year-old boy on MySpace and then sending messages from the character appearing to flirt with teenage neighbor Megan Meier. She then made it appear the fictitious boy made derogatory comments about Meier, saying the world would be better without her. Meier hanged herself shortly afterwards.

 

Drew was initially charged with felony conspiracy and of intentionally causing emotional harm. She was found not guilty on the emotional harm charge and the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the conspiracy charge.The trial occurred in Los Angles, the jurisdiction where servers of the social networking site are located.

 

The attorney seeking dismissal has argued that it is not a federal crime to violate the terms of service of MySpace.

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