The trial of a Missouri woman accused of online fraud in connection with the suicide of a teenager has begun in a federal court in Los Angeles, reports the New York Times, in a case with important implications for internet law. Federal prosecutors on Nov. 19 depicted a woman accused of creating a phony account on MySpace to taunt a 13-year-old girl as cravenly preying on the "vulnerable" and "boy-crazy" teenager, who had a history of depression and suicidal thoughts. The girl, Megan Meier, committed suicide, prosecutors said, after receiving nasty messages that she believed had come from a teenage boy but had actually been written by the accused woman, Lori Drew. In a highly unusual use of computer-fraud statutes, Drew is being charged with conspiracy and three counts of accessing a computer without authorization via interstate commerce to obtain information to inflict emotional distress. Each count could lead to a maximum of five years in prison. Drew found herself face to face with Megan’s parents and other residents of her town near St. Louis in a courtroom in downtown Los Angeles, where the U.S. attorney has claimed jurisdiction because MySpace servers and corporate headquarters are in the county. Because Missouri did not have a cyber-bullying law in place at the time of the alleged actions, prosecutors decided to wield a federal statute that is generally used to prosecute fraud that occurs across state lines. Some critics have said the use of these statutes in the case is overreaching…

Click here for the full story

About the Author:

eSchool News


Add your opinion to the discussion.