Jul 13, 2011

E-Impersonation is a CRIME

There is a growing and concerning rise of individuals using the anonymity of the Internet to harass, threaten and severely annoy people by impersonating them online (“E-Impersonation”).  This type of behavior can have significant ramifications in the impersonated victim’s life including suicide, depression, helplessness – all of which are avoidable with the right law(s) and awareness in place.  Politicians and celebrities are not the only victims of such abuse…it can affect EVERYONE including the helpless child who is impersonated for cyber-bullying purposes.  We are at a stage in our digital century when we critically need additional tools for law enforcement to have in their arsenal to fight this crime.

It is time to ensure that every state in our country has a law that appropriately protects our citizens from E-Impersonation.  The state of California has recently shown us that it can be done and can be done now.  In California, State Senator Joe Simitian spearheaded California Senate Bill 1411 into what has become California Penal Code Section 528.5, which in part states:

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person who knowingly and without consent credibly impersonates another actual person through or on an Internet Web site or by other electronic means for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person is guilty of a public offense punishable pursuant to subdivision (d).

(b) For purposes of this section, an impersonation is credible if another person would reasonably believe, or did reasonably believe, that the defendant was or is the person who was impersonated.

(c) For purposes of this section, “electronic means” shall include opening an e-mail account or an account or profile on a social networking Internet Web site in another person’s name.

(d) A violation of subdivision (a) is punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

(e) In addition to any other civil remedy available, a person who suffers damage or loss by reason of a violation of subdivision (a) may bring a civil action against the violator for compensatory damages and injunctive relief or other equitable relief pursuant to paragraphs (1), (2), (4), and (5) of subdivision (e) and subdivision (g) of Section 502.

In other words, this California law can help stop cyber-bullying through E-Impersonation.  We hope there will be a Federal law soon.

Find out how how to protect yourself and your love ones and make an impact by bringing this matter to your legislature’s attention, click here.


More Resources for you to check out:
Here is a video from CNN where I explain further.

Please take a look at Senator Simitian’s website where you can read the entire law (it’s only ONE paragraph), read the letter he wrote to then Governor Schwarzenegger, and a very simple ‘fact sheet’ that explains all you need to know.