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Sunday, December 26, 2010


Impersonating someone online will soon be a crime

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Online impersonators who assume someone else's identity to harm, intimidate, threaten or defraud may be charged with a misdemeanor.
"E-personation," said Simitian, "is the dark side of the social networking revolution. Facebook or MySpace pages, e-mails, texting and comments on Web forums have been used to humiliate or torment people and even put them in danger. Victims have needed a law they can turn to."
Online impersonators have sent Twitter messages "signed" by celebrities, pretended to be someone else to send obscene e-mails, even subjected others to unwanted sexual advances by assuming their identity to post invitations on adult sites. In one example, a woman angry about her ex-husband's girlfriend pretended to be the girlfriend's daughter on an adult dating site, causing the daughter to receive lewd responses.
The penalties for online impersonation are similar to those already on the books for other forms of impersonation - a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in jail. The bill would also allow victims of online impersonation to pursue compensation in civil court. 
Senate Bill 1411, authored by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), becomes law January 1, updating California's 19th century impersonation law to the Internet age.

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