Yesterday, a federal jury in Los Angeles returned guilty verdicts against Lori Drew on misdemeanor charges arising from Drew’s alleged violations of MySpace terms of service (TOS), while acquitting Drew of felony charges. The prosecution was brought in the wake of the suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier in suburban St. Louis, which followed Meier being rejected by a fictitious 16-year-old boy allegedly created by Drew.
George Washington University law professor and former Department of Justice computer crime prosecutor Orin Kerr is a member of Drew’s defense team, and he provides his post-verdict take here. http://volokh.com/posts/1227728513.shtml
There is lots of lawyering remaining in this case. If Drew’s post-trial motion to throw out the misdemeanor convictions is denied, an appeal of her convictions and sentence is a near-certainty. Given the controversy over the government’s decision to base its prosecution upon a violation of an Internet site’s terms of agreement — the cyberspace equivalent of speeding — it’s likely that Congress and state legislatures will act, too.
Meanwhile, Internet users are confronted by the reality that at least one federal jury has deemed it a federal offense to violate terms of service. What does that mean for the general public?