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TOS violation criminal charges being challenged

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by CyberDilemma, Jan 8, 2009.

  1. CyberDilemma

    CyberDilemma Regular Member

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    This is something to keep an eye on. The ultimate ruling on this dismissal motion could have a far-reaching impact on whether or not anyone violating a company's tos could be criminally prosecuted.

     
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  2. MrsE

    MrsE BANNED BANNED

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    Holy Shit, was the girl like a total fat ass or something??... How do you hang yourself over an internet boyfriend breaking up with you....??

    And as for the mother... i'd probably do the same thing....
    just proves a point- HE WASN'T THE ONE!!
     
  3. springer98

    springer98 Regular Member

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    WOW! I'm amazed there's not a lot more interest in this. Especially on a topic that affects virtually everyone here. This case could have far reaching ramifications for us all.

    Imagine being subject to criminal charges for using a keyword tool or serp scraper that pulls results from the google. That is the type of activity the government means to criminalize with this decision. Certainly not in so many words, but a decision for the government would make that activity a criminal act, punishable by imprisonment and/or fine. ANY TOS violation would become a criminal act. :eek:

    I've read about the case and have read the original motion to overturn the conviction, the response filed by the government and the amended brief filed by the defense. In my opinion, Drew was convicted of a crime, sentenced to prison and fined for what was, at best, a breach of contract... one that typically wouldn't even be heard in a civil court.

    The government failed to prove its case for the death, as evidenced by the jury's failure to convict on those charges. But, there must have been at least one over-zealous "spam hater" on the jury that convinced the others that Drew's "acts in conspiracy" to create a fake myspace account constituted some dastardly crime and needed to be severely punished.

    Perhaps the judges instructions to the jury were flawed or incomplete. Or, perhaps the jury took it upon themselves to reinterpret the law to their own liking. In either case, the conviction should be vacated.

    If Judge Wu doesn't overturn the decision no doubt it'll go to the 9th District Court of Appeals then, if necessary, on to the Supreme Court. Hopefully, someone with a level head will see it and make the right decision.

    In any case, it'll be interesting to see how it plays out. I really hope Judge Wu takes note of the Fascist bent the government is putting on this and that he overturns the conviction, based on the facts presented by the defense showing it is NOT a crime to simply violate the TOS of a website.
     
  4. tonlilaz

    tonlilaz Executive VIP Premium Member

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    I think a wrongful death suit should be filed against the psycho mom....

    either way, this is a horrible case, ....no matter what the outcome. I think psycho mom should be in prison
     
  5. ukescuba

    ukescuba Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    i do sympathize with the family for the loss of the daughter... really i do and not wanting to sound cold heart and a dick but if i was ever to be a big asshole and verbally tell an ex to go hang themselves and they actually went and did it... would that be really my fault... come on thats f@cked up if you think yes... the person would have to be mentally unstable to do that... thats suicide? Suicide is any means by which a person purposely kills himself or herself.

    its f@cked up sure that a mom should do that for sure but am not sure she ever thought she would go and commit suicide - at the end of the day the girl whatever frame of mind she was in took it upon herself to do that...

    its sad to think her parents are probably pushing for this woman to go to jail or whatever -but look at the bigger picture... why where her parents letting her get so close to someone online like that...

    i personally feel as though a lot of parents dont take enough responsibility themselves for their own kids...

    was she not able to confide in her parents or her parents get the right type of help for her...

    i cant even and dont want to think about that happening to my kids, but i tell you now when my daughter gets old enough to use the internet ill be damn sure i know whats she doing on it whether she likes it or not and not just that ill actually take an interest in the rest of "normal" life too!

    bah - shitty bitter day today so am in mood whatever! :)
     
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  6. Vivica

    Vivica Regular Member

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    I don't think they've considered the ramifications of prosecuting someone for violating a website's TOS. Almost EVERY TOS says you can't use false information when applying for an account and they often state that you cannot open multiple accounts, etc. This makes "criminals" out of millions of people. Too bad the kid hanged herself and the defendant's conduct was extremely juvenile, but I don't see where a crime has been committed here.
     
  7. springer98

    springer98 Regular Member

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    Don't say "It can't happen," because it can... and it will, if this verdict stands. It's called "precedent" and will make it easier for the government to penalize you for one more thing. Sure, it might be just a fine, like a speeding ticket, but it CAN happen. The number of people already doing it and their intent matters not.

    Lackadaisical, or "It can't happen to me," attitudes are what allow this type of thing to creep up on us and bite us on the collective ass. I, for one, am not in favor of any government agency having any more control over me and my actions than they already do.

    TOS violations are currently not a big deal. They can, in certain circumstances, be court enforced; as evidenced by recent lawsuits brought by egay and CL but, so far, those are civil actions, not punishable in a criminal court.

    I'm not speaking of any fraud aspects, like actually taking ill-gotten profits from various nefarious activities. I'm speaking solely to the act of merely violating a website's TOS, willfully or not.

    Imagine going to jail or prison for posting too many ads on CL or for doing too many google searches from the same IP or for stuffing cookies on egay users. That is the crux of the governments claim... that the mere violation of a website's TOS constitutes a criminal act.

    The government is looking to have TOS violations covered by the Computer Crimes Act... making it a broad, sweeping, all encompassing law, not unlike RICO, that will allow them to go after almost anyone for almost anything. Another "Big Brother" clause in an already overwhelming set of vague and non-specific laws.

    In regards to what Drew and her cohorts did... it is reprehensible, but not criminal. None of them enticed the victim to commit suicide nor did they assist her. They had no way of knowing she was that psychologically fragile or that the situation would end the way it did. I cannot imagine the outcome was what they desired.

    The result of their actions is a tragedy and they all deserve to suffer for the harm they caused but it is not up to the government to punish them. I'm sure they will all spend the rest of their lives punishing themselves, but they committed no crime.
     
  8. nahor

    nahor Junior Member

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    Cops do it all the time to catch sexual predators. Some lady was messing around on the web. Said she was a guy and broke up with a girl and the girl committed suicide? That I truly believe is parents not monitoring their kids, thats number one. Number two is what kind of emotionally unstable child is so in love that she could commit suicide for someone she has never physically met? The parents had to feel something could of been out of whack I think.
    But as this society is, someone has to be blamed. And Myspace should of probably had stricter guidelines than to let a 13 y/o just type in she's 16 which is their minimum age. There must be well over a million underage teens on there, and no one else commits suicide.
    This lady isnt to blame, pointless...
     
  9. tonlilaz

    tonlilaz Executive VIP Premium Member

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    the lady is to blame. she was an 'adult' manipulating a child with serious emotional and psychological issues. If anybody did that to my child, there would be no place on earth safe enough for them.


    I find it ironic how the parent of the young lady that commited suicide is being blamed for not 'monitoring' her, yet the 'adult' that was manipulating her is not to blame. Children and teens can't be monitored 24-7. Hell, my parents didn't know of about 90% of the shit i did as a teen....but they weren't to blame for that.

    I know if i came across a troubled teen, my first instinct wouldn't be to crush him/her...it would be to do whatever I could to help the individual....or atleast not do anything to do further psychological damage.
    Now, I would understand if this was a kid on kid prank. Kids can be stupid and immature. But this was an adult with a child of her own. I remember life at 13. It wasn't fun...

    If an adult cannot...or should not...but held responsible for their actions, then who can be? Granted, she did not pull the trigger...but either way you look at it, she's got blood on her hands.
     
  10. notrace

    notrace Newbie

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    If the court declares that "It is a crime to violate a Web site's terms of service" then user of social sites (networking, forums, blogs, free classifieds, bookmarking) will reduce drastically.
     
  11. ukescuba

    ukescuba Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    dont get me wrong as previously mentioned i think that the moms actions where totally callous and i am sure she is more than punishing herself right now knowing what her actions led too... well i would hope she has some kind of consious....

    what TOS did she actually break? if its impersonating someone that you really are not? i think you will find 80% of the profiles on there people make out they are someone they are really not... ie high baller, sexy hot chic, gangsta, etc, etc
     
  12. crashed

    crashed Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Lol, she signed up as someone younger then she was using false details. Tbh, if they make this a law then the internet is going to die, as how many people read terms and conditions.

    Can you imaging companies going to Lawyers/Solicitors before they release a press release to a press release site. It'd make TOS come under Contract Law which means that TOS would have to be scrutinised. Only people profiting would be those in Legal services.
     
  13. Uptownbulker

    Uptownbulker BANNED BANNED

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    What they are doing is taking the whole "Accessing a protected computer" this to absurd lengths and the defence attorneys, are in my opinion, correct!
     
  14. nahor

    nahor Junior Member

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    Tonlilaz, I'm not saying the woman who did this wasn't wrong. But does it make sense that if a child on the other end of the PC was actually 16 then what would he get a slap on the wrist? The mother is worse cause "she should know better"? I have 3 kids, no you cant be there everywhere they are, but we do alot to monitor what they are allowed to do on a PC. I know at 13 my daughter is not talking to a 16 y/o number one nor any boys for that matter. My wife handles that, as my daughter confides alot in her. But I would not necessarily blame the parents in a court of law but i do blame them for not more closely monitoring what, where and who your child comes in contact with.
    There are programs today that can record keystrokes or just look into the history of the pc for sites she visited. No, no one can be everything, everywhere or know all that the child is doing but i just feel as if they are just dropping the blame on anyone. This country is a "love to place the blame on others" society. When the parents could of been better at monitoring what that child is doing on the pc if she's not doing school work. Morals and values could of led that child to stay away from boys in the first place until she is of age.
     
  15. tonlilaz

    tonlilaz Executive VIP Premium Member

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    in this case, I put the blame on the 'mother' that psychologically manipulated a child via an internet prank........the 'adult' knew what she was doing. She intentionally posed as a teenage boy to 'get' to her. While I do not believe the law that was broken here was 'violating the TOS of myspace page'....i believe the crime was harassment/bullying plain and simple. It would have been just the same if she wrote these notes in the form of letters and mailed them to the kid. Kids are very impressionable, especially at 13....I will bet you a million dollars that had the parent been a father pranking the 13 year old girl, he'd be in jail so fast his head would spin.

    I do not understand how parents can be blamed for not monitoring their children more closely....yet not be blamed for pranking children to the point that they commit suicide.

     
  16. DeadEyesOpened

    DeadEyesOpened Junior Member

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    Exactly right, the TOS bullshit is just her defence trying to wriggle her out of it, mark my words, this woman will do time.
     
  17. springer98

    springer98 Regular Member

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    Whatever everyone's feelings are about Drew, the case in point here is that the government is trying to criminalize something we're ALL guilty of, from time to time... That being, violating a web site's TOS. The fact that something benign and, at best, a civil matter, is being made out to be a criminal act by the government. That, after all, was what the original post was made about and this thread has gone way off track.

    I'm not trying to diminish the tragedy of the death of a teenage girl but, it happened and those that contributed to it perpetrated reprehensible acts. Things they will have to live with forever.

    The point I'm trying to make is, the aftermath is something that, in one way or another, may effect us all in a very negative way. Once again, that was the point of the original post... not the death or the acts leading up to it.
     
  18. DeadEyesOpened

    DeadEyesOpened Junior Member

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    Well the real point of the prosecutions case is that she harrased someone to death via the internet, and in the process violated MySpace's TOS.

    The jury dismissed one & couldn't reach a verdict on the more serious charges:

    So they are going after her with the TOS stuff. Pretty weak case, but this woman delibratly targeted a 13 year old girl. MAybe it will push the jury over, who knows.

    As for the larger ramifications, how on earth are they going to police it, especially on social network sites, where people register with fake details to protect privacy.
     
  19. springer98

    springer98 Regular Member

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    The prosecutions case is over. There was a verdict and that's that. It is now going through the appeal process and the first appeal is to overturn the conviction on the TOS violation because it's not really part of the computer crimes act... at least as most people interpret it.

    There is no jury to "push over." The decision rests solely with Judge Wu and it's not a "weak case." If he decides in favor of the government it will be appealed again until it reaches the Supreme Court. If it's not overturned it will become a point of law that anyone who violates any websites TOS will be subject to criminal prosecution.

    As for how it will be policed? Imagine this scenario... in the case of the guys who own that infamous forum that egay has sued civilly for violating their TOS by cookie stuffing their visitors, egay would now merely file a police report and the forum owners would be prosecuted by the government... at tax payers expense, I might add.

    Additionally, instead of CL suing the makers of software that allowed numerous people to wantonly violate their TOS, they file a police report. The governement then subpoenas the customer lists of the software developers and charges all of them with criminal acts for violating CLs TOS.

    Don't believe for even a moment it will not be enforceable.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2009
  20. CyberDilemma

    CyberDilemma Regular Member

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    It's not a matter of "if". This court HAS ruled it is a federal crime to violate a website's TOS. With one sweep of the gavel, they have turned anyone who has violated a TOS into a criminal. In essence, they are trying to apply the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in a wide-sweeping, all-encompassing manner similar to the way the RICO Act is used.

    Granted, the lady convicted in this case did a dastardly thing but it is the point of law for which she was convicted I personally feel has set a dangerous precedent. Hopefully, the dismissal motion will be upheld. If not, pray for an appeal.