Friday, March 27, 2009

NJ teen arrested for inappropriate Myspace photo of herself

Beth DeFalco, of the Associated Press, reported today, here that a teenage girl in Trenton, NJ was arrested for posting about thirty nude photos of herself on Myspace, and charged with child pornography. Apparently her motive was to be found by her boyfriend. If convicted, she will be forced to register as a sex offender.

This is the first known case where such an arrest was made and prosecution contemplated for a social networking site or blog posting. But around the country there have been several prosecutions for sending nude cell phone photos of minors, a practice now known as “sexting”.

AOL reproduced the story, and the public was surprisingly concerned about this behavior, according to survey results.

Myspace certainly would have removed the inappropriate images when it learned of them. And it should not have been possible for her to have a public account, according to Myspace policies. But Myspace apparently has no way to reliably verify age, an issue well known from the COPA trial covered on this blog in 2006.

Using oneself as the subject of “existential” content does not necessarily protect oneself legally; it could make it worse, according to theories about implicit content.

According to this theory, Justin Berry, well known from New York Times coverage a few years ago, could have been prosecuted. Parents have been told that kids should not have webcams for use on home computers.

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