What’s the story on the MySpace suicide indictment?

The media has given a lot of attention to the indictment by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles of the mother who allegedly set up a bogus MySpace account to harass one of her daughter’s 13 year old friends. That friend later hung herself in the closet, purportedly because of the harassment.

But what’s the basis of the indictment? It’s not for homicide, nor even harassment. It’s for criminal violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. 1030, a subject which we’ve covered a number of times here on Internet Cases. In so many words, the defendant is accused of accessing MySpace’s servers without authorization, namely, in violation of the site’s terms of service.

Orin Kerr covers the governmnet’s theory in detail over at the Volokh Conspiracy, and also spells out why he thinks the case should fail.

One thought on “What’s the story on the MySpace suicide indictment?

  1. Kevin Thompson - May 17, 2008


    I agree with Orin Kerr's assessment, it's a tragic thing which happened but I don't believe this is the right cause of action. Violating the terms of service might be all she's done, we'll see how the facts play out.


    Kevin Thompson

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