Monday, September 13, 2010

Impersonation Could Soon Be Outlawed In CA

Do you see me now?
According to BBC News, State of California may pass a bill, authored by State Senator Joe Simitian, outlawing online impersonation (E-impersonation). The bill seeks to update the current identity laws on the books, which go back more than a century to 1872.
"Our identity is one of the most personal things we have, and when someone misuses that it seems there ought to be some sort of deterrence, In the days when the original law was written, no-one could have anticipated Facebook or Twitter or even e-mail - all of which are ripe for the kind of online impersonation this bill seeks to address. It seems to be that for anyone who engages in this kind of behaviour there ought to be consequences." Senator Simitian told BBC News.
While this look good in the view of increasing Identity theft and associated crimes, EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) worries that the bill too wide and one of the big casualty of this proposed law will be political parody.
"We have over the past several years seen a new form of political activism emerge online that involves 'credibly impersonating' public officials and corporate executives for the purposes of political satire," said Ms McSherry.The way it works is that this impersonator makes an outrageous statement to cause a press controversy and bring attention to an issue.It is important that for this to work, one credibly impersonates the executive or official and I am worried a judge will look at this bill and feel this applies to that kind of speech. The bill does not include enough protections for satire and parody, in my view," said Corynne McSherry, senior attorney at EFF.
She pointed out Yes Men, who are activists who engage in such parody to make a wider point. One of its members appeared on a BBC World News program as an apparent representative of Dow Chemical on the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster in India, claiming the company accepted responsibility for what happened.

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