E-Personators to be Jailed in California if New Law is Signed

Wanting to commit identity fraud? Of course you don’t, dear UberGizmo readers, as there are talks of a new law that can send Internet impersonators to prison if signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. And we’re not talking just criminals, but pranksters, activists, and satirists could be affected. If and when the law is signed, California e-personators may face up to a year in jail and fines up to $1,000 if they are found to impersonate another person on the Internet with malicious intent. Additionally, victims can also file civil suits against their Internet impersonators, bringing the monetary higher if found guilty.

While all this sounds good, not all is rosy with the new law proposal. The language of the law is vague, and can apply to “Pranksters, writers of satire, and even activists living outside the state could be subject to legal action, some lawyers say. Fake accounts in the names of celebrities and politicians abound on microblogging site Twitter and social network Facebook.,” according to BusinessWeek. According to the law, anyone who credibly impersonates “for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person” would be guilty of e-personating. But because of the vague language, anyone from “Fake Steve Jobs” to Microsoft impersonators could be found guilty.

Additionally, the law may also cross state lines. When content is distributed over the Internet, it will be hard to make decisions on legal issues based on state lines.

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