[J]urors found Drew guilty only gaining unauthorized access to MySpace for the purpose of obtaining information on Megan Meier -- a misdemeanor that potentially carries up to a year in prison, but most likely will result in no jail time. The jury unanimously rejected the three felony computer hacking charges that alleged the unauthorized access was part of a scheme to intentionally inflict emotional distress on Megan....Good. It was abusive.
The slap-on-the-wrist verdict is a rebuke to federal prosecutors, who elected to charge Drew federally even after authorities in Missouri -- where the hoax unfolded -- found that Drew's behavior did not violate any state laws at the time. Some legal experts and civil libertarians decried the prosecution as an abuse of computer crime laws.
ADDED: Orin Kerr -- one of Drew's attorneys -- explains the verdict:
The government's theory in the Lori Drew case is that it is a federal crime to intentionally violate the Terms of Service on a website, and that it becomes a more serious crime — a felony rather than a misdemeanor — if the Terms of Service are violated to further a criminal or tortious act. The tortious act the government alleged is intentional infliction of emotional distress, which in this case was alleged to have led to Meier's suicide.The phrasing "The jury agreed that it is a federal crime to intentionally violate the Terms of Service on a website" seems wrong, but Kerr, responding to comments, assures us he meant what he wrote. Why was the jury asked to define the crime?
The jury agreed that it is a federal crime to intentionally violate the Terms of Service on a website, and that Drew directly or indirectly did so, but it acquitted Drew of having violated Terms of Service in furtherance of the tortious act. That is, the jury ruled that Drew is guilty of relatively lower-level crimes for violating MySpacs Terms of Service (for being involved in the setting up of a fake MySpace account). It acquitted Drew for any role in inflicting distress on Meier or for anything related to Meier's suicide. The maximum allowed penalty for the misdemeanor violations are one year in prison for each violation, although the majority of federal misdemeanors result in a sentence of probation.
AND: From the NYT article:
"As a result of the prosecutor’s highly aggressive, if not unlawful, legal theory,” said Matthew L. Levine, a former federal prosecutor who is a defense lawyer in New York, “it is now a crime to ‘obtain information’ from a Web site in violation of its terms of service. This cannot be what Congress meant when it enacted the law, but now you have it."It is shocking to think that these website terms of service agreements -- which no one reads -- could could be incorporated into the criminal law this way.