Today, a Los Angeles jury acquitted [Lori Drew] of three felony computer hacking charges. She was convicted of three misdemeanor counts for accessing a computer without authorization. The 49-year-old Missouri resident posed as a teenage boy on MySpace and harassed her daughter’s estranged friend [Megan Meier], who then committed suicide. The case came to our attention in May because of it’s unorthodox use of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Prosecutors charged that by violating MySpace’s Terms of Service, [Drew] had gained unlawful access to their computers for the purpose of harming others, an equivalent to computer hacking. While an interesting approach to cyberbullying, it would set a very dangerous precedent for anyone that had violated a TOS before (all of us). The case broke when [Drew]‘s employee [Ashley Grills] testified that no one involved had read the TOS, that the hoax was all her idea, and that she sent the final message to [Meier].
MySpace users are very familiar with the visage of their first “friend” and MySpace cofounder [Tom Anderson], but did you ever wonder what he used to do before he became everyone’s friend? TechCrunch’s investigative reporting revealed that [Tom] was a hacker in the eighties who hacked into the Chase Manhattan Bank computer system, which attracted the attention of the FBI. Under the handle “Lord Flathead”, he became the leader of a black hat hacker group by the time he was fourteen. His activities (along with those of other hackers) led to one of the largest FBI raids in California history. Because he was a minor at the time, he was not arrested, but put on probation in exchange for an agreement to stop committing computer crimes. This definitely makes having [Tom Anderson] on your friends list just a bit more interesting, doesn’t it?
[Jeffrey Robert Weinberg] has been sentenced to 2 years in state prison for a single act of computer intrusion. He had already served time in federal prison for hacking into Lexis-Nexis. Weinberg was caught through his cyberstalking – he went after an Internet celebrity. [Amor Hilton] was a MySpace user with a popular show on Stickam. Hilton found herself locked out of her MySpace account, and her cellphone account disconnected. She alleged that he demanded phone sex and nude photos of her. [Hilton] worked with the police to identify the hacker using a photo that he sent. After [Weinberg] completes his sentence in state prison, he will have to face repercussions for violation of his federal probation, which came with severe restrictions on his computer usage.