New Media implications of the Foley Scandal. Is cybersex, sex?

In Washington, D.C., a minor is a person under 16. However, if you are in a trusted relationship with someone under 18 and you commit a sex offense against them, you face extra penalties (DC Code § 22-3020).Which makes me wonder: Did Foley break the law in approaching a 17-year-old for cybersex? I have searched and searched, stayed up half the night reading federal and state statutes and legislation about child pornography and minors on the internet, and I cannot put forth a definitive answer. I imagine if it were that easy, someone else would have already done so. (A lawyer, maybe?)The situation has so many factors. The communication crossed state lines. The teenager explicitly states his discomfort with Foley’s expectations, but does not log off or report it immediately. In the published chat, Foley definitely provides most of the sexual content. No physical contact appears to have occurred, and in fact, the published logs don’t include any cybersex (although it’s obvious that’s what Foley was after).

Read Never Assume Text Is Private from WIRED

Update: Teens, IM and Mark Foley, a commentary from the Pew Internet and American Life Project

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Filed under Privacy, Technology, our Mirror, The Politics of New Media, Virtual Communities

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