Lori Drew, the worst person on the internet and the evildoer behind the MySpace hoax that arguably drove 13-year-old Megan Meier to suicide, has plead not guilty to charges of "internet fraud and conspiracy to inflict emotional distress," reports the L.A. Times. (For those of you who missed our exhaustive Meier coverage, Drew and an 18-year-old accomplice created a fake MySpace profile for a "Josh Evans" to torment Megan because of some slight towards Drew's daughter. After being rejected by Josh, Megan, who had a history of emotional problems, hung herself.) According to the Wall Street Journal, "The theory of the case seems to be that when Drew registered on MySpace she agreed to certain terms of service that required her to, among other things, provide 'truthful and accurate registration information' and 'refrain from promoting information that' she knew was
'false or misleading.'"
Drew is being charged with violating federal statute as outlined in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, but this is the first time the Act has been used in a social networking scenario. USC law professor Rebecca Lonergan tells the L.A. Times, "It's a very creative, aggressive use of the statute. But they may have a legally tough time meeting the elements." Another California attorney, James Chadwick, thinks the state will have a tough time convicting Lori Drew on these grounds. "As tragic as it is," Chadwick said, "You can't start imposing liability on people for being cruel."
If Lori Drew is convicted she faces four counts, each of which carry a five year maximum jail sentence. The trial is set for July 29. Even if the case is a wash, the public shaming of Lori Drew has at least one positive outcome, the LAT reports. "In response to the case, Missouri legislators gave final approval to a bill making cyber harassment illegal."