Lori Drew case dismissed, and why it’s a good thing

Charges against Lori Drew, the mother who drove Missouri teenager Megan Meier to suicide on MySpace in 2007 have been dismissed.

Drew was found guilty of three counts of accessing a computer without authorization in November 2008 over tricking Meier, a rival of her daughter, into a fake relationship with a fictitious boy on MySpace. Drew broke the relationship off and mocked Meier, an action that drove the teen to end her life.

In dismissing the charges, U.S. District Judge George H. Wu said that he was concerned that if Drew was found guilty of violating the terms of service in using MySpace, anyone who violated the terms could be convicted of a crime.

The result is a blow to prosecutors who were desperate to charge Drew with anything following the public outrage the story generated. For the rest of us though, the decision is a good one. Turning a Terms of Service breach into a Federal Crime could have opened a pandora’s box of prosecutions for even trivial matters (potentially using a presumed identity could have become a crime), a view held by a range of groups on both sides of the political fence including the EFF and Heritage Foundation.