Online Impersonation Now Illegal in California

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On January 1st, the California Senate Bill 1411 went into effect, making it a standard misdemeanor for people in California to impersonate another person on the Internet.

Basically any email accounts, blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages or other online accounts are now illegal that "knowingly and without consent credibly impersonate another person through or on an Internet Web site or by other electronic means with the intent to harm, intimidate, threaten or defraud another person."

This law was designed in part to help combat identity theft, and it doesn't just apply to trademarked names. Violations can result in a fine of up to $1000 and/or up to a year in jail. The law was created mainly to counter cyber-harassment and not necessarily non-malicious satire or parody, and some attorneys are concerned that the bill doesn't have enough structure to effectively rule on cases involving satire or parody accounts.

You can read the full bill here.

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