Thursday, November 27, 2008
You can go to jail for lying on the internet
Via Kill Ten Rats I got the news that Lori Drew has been convicted of violating the Terms of Service, by setting up a fake MySpace account. She has not been convicted for driving a girl to suicide, which is probably a good thing, because you don't want to find yourself in the situation where you e.g. dump your girlfriend, she commits suicide, and you end up in jail. So the court decided that the only thing illegal going on was lying on the internet about your identity, and breaking the Terms of Service.
Hmmm, I better head for the hills. I must admit that the name in my passport is *not* Tobold, thus I'm apparently committing a federal crime right now. My only chance is that the US will run out of prison space rather quickly if they enforce this. Because not only lying on the internet is a federal crime according to this, but any violation of a Terms of Service. If you named your World of Warcraft character "Ipwnyou", spam in trade chat, or use any vulgar language for example, you are breaking the Terms of Service of WoW, and are thus by this ruling committing a federal crime. Is that a knock at your door? Must be the FBI! But if you're lucky they'll start with MySpace first, and jail the 100 million users that weren't entirely truthful in their profile there first.
Fact is that Lori Drew played a rather evil prank on a teenage friend of her daughter, with tragic consequences. It is understandable that many people have a gut feeling that she should somehow be punished for that. But there is no law against what she did. And the district attorney, jury, and judge bending a completely unrelated law into shape just to punish that women, without thinking of the consequences, is reckless and stupid.