Legal, Laws, and Regs

Drew’s lawyer files response in court

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The lawyer for Lori Drew has filed a response in California, to the charges that Drew violated MySpace’s rules and terms of service. If you don’t remember who Lori Drew is, she was the woman accused of “hounding” the 13 year old Megan Meier to death. I used the word “hounded” facetiously, as there’s much more to this story than a tale of a lost little girl done wrong by a Big Bad Woman. The event happened here in Missouri, and has been a very major story, as well as source of contention.

These charges are absurd, as well as being potentially devastating to any and all online web usage. From the filing, and quoted in the St. Louis Today report:

“If violating user agreements is a crime, millions of Americans are probably committing crimes on a daily basis and don’t know it,” the filings says.

Steward also says that laws have to make clear what is prohibited, and the one being used against Drew doesn’t. The terms “access” and “unauthorized” aren’t defined in the law. The law fails to warn the public of what is prohibited and establish standards that would prevent it from being enforced in an arbitrary and capricious manner, he wrote.

“A reasonable person could never know whether their conduct violates the statute,” the filings say, and the law is “ripe for discriminatory enforcement.”

Steward also writes that it is unconstitutional to delegate governmental powers to private parties. Prosecutors’ interpretation of the law would allow Web site owners unlimited authority to decide what was unauthorized.

“Almost any computer owner can set up whatever arbitrary and unique rules they want, and a violation of those rules can lead to a. . . prosecution,” Steward wrote

In other words, you could not only lose access to a web service by not following the “rules” of the service, you could thrown in prison for not following the rules. How absolutely insane is that?

More from Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. In addition, copies of the filings: Failure to State Offencedelegation of authority, and vagueness.

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