Separating the cyber from the crime in cybercrime

The tool used to commit a crime might amplify harm and justify more severe punishment but it doesn’t change the nature of the crime.

A judge dropped the “cyberbullying” conviction against the woman who allegedly contributed to the suicide of a 13 year old girl.

The judge found the particular law she was prosecuted under, “illegally accessing a computer”, was unconstitutionally vague and could be applied to anyone who violated a social network’s terms and conditions.

The defendant says she never should have been prosecuted.

Here’s what she was accused of doing:

Prosecutors said Drew sought to humiliate Megan by helping create a fictitious teenage boy on the social networking site and by sending flirtatious messages to the girl in his name. The fake boy then dumped Megan in a message, saying the world would be better without her.

She hanged herself a short time later, in October 2006, in the St. Louis suburb of Dardenne Prairie, Mo.

If an adult, disguises him or herself as a teen and uses that false identity to approach a thirteen year old child for the purpose of manipulating and harming that child, isn’t that a crime?

If the direct result of those actions is mental anguish for that child — if the indirect result is the death of that child, isn’t that a crime?

If not, we need to reform our existing laws not distract ourselves coining a new “cybercrime” to describe people who happen to do this using MySpace.

Defendant Says Dismissal of MySpace Hoax Case Linked to Suicide Was ‘‘Proper’ – washingtonpost.com http://bit.ly/lyAoa

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About Ken Judy

I am an executive manager, software developer, father and husband trying to do more good than harm. I am an agile practitioner. I say this fully aware I say nothing. Sold as a tool to solve problems, agile is more a set of principles that encourage us to confront problems. Broad adoption of the jargon has not resulted in wide embrace of these principles. I strive to create material and human good by respecting co-workers, telling truth to employers, improving my skills, and caring for the people affected by the software I help build.