California’s new online-impersonation ban

Liability is predicated on “intent to harm, intimidate, threaten, or defraud another person ā€“ not necessarily the person you are impersonating.” [Michael Arrington, TechCrunch] Despite talk of using the statute against stalkers, Choire Sicha predicts a somewhat different application: “harm as in ‘brand dilution’ — that is what will be prosecuted. Of course there is no carve-out for playful, political or non-murderous uses of online impersonation.” The bill’s text, notes Arrington, doesn’t address such free speech issues as satire and parody, though it does restrict itself to impersonations that are “credible.” Compare: much-demonized Koch Industries goes to court to identify originators (apparently political critics) of website imitating its own [Web Host Industry Review]

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