New law prohibits internet impersonations

January 10, 2011

Among the new laws that went into effect on January 1, California Senate Bill 114 makes it a misdemeanor to “credibly” impersonate another person on the web “for the purpose of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person.”

These impersonations include online forums, emails and social media. The law makes it a crime to create an email, send a tweet or create a Facebook page under another person’s name.

If a person violates California Penal code section 528.5, they face a fine of up to $1,000 and one year in jail.

In addition to criminal penalties, the law allows persons to take civil actions if they have suffered damage or loss because of an internet impersonation.



  1. Alon_Perlman says:

    Well the exchange below is a little bizarre so I’ll move it up here
    Google (or one of the other search engines) is a powerful tool. Don’t go out on the internet without it, Willie.
    Once you use it you will learn about quotation marks to define a term and limit your search. I haven’t verified this but the CCN article may be about AB 1014 (NOT 114).
    So here is a search link that I haven’t read yet but looks like it’s the right stuff.,18167,27955,28220&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=California+Senate+Bill+1411+impersonate&cp=50&pf=p&sclient=psy&site=&source=hp&rlz=1R2DMUS_en&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=California+Senate+Bill+1411+impersonate+california&gs_rfai=&pbx=1&fp=7b989c6c17f79c85

    Also the article states “intent to harm” not “harm”. Merriam –Webster online or a different online dictionary is what you want for a single word definition
    You may want to look at the phrase. “Intent to harm”. That is a legal phrase and means something different. That changes the burden of proof, in this case actually relieving the person harmed from having to prove damage that may had occurred and which they may not be aware of. The content and act of impersonation in themselves can be proof of harmfull intent.

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    • willie says:

      Another thing if you are that knowledgeable, look up inference and deduction in general or legal terminology and you will see that I am not that off base in my profile of someone mind screwing with others.
      So don’t lean on me for nobility or recognition! What good is it for prosperity?
      Many years ago I had a superior who told me, “don’t try to be so articulate, just tell it like it is (I gotten in a lot of trouble for it but it feels right, correct or better – its the right thing to do)!

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  2. Typoqueen says:

    People used to pretend to be other people on the Tribune quite frequently. I wonder if that falls under this new law. Sometimes they would get pretty nasty.

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  3. ———————Found this on the internet

    Meg Whitman Losses Domain Name Dispute & Domain Names
    Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman loses UDRP proceeding and Domain Name Dispute.

    Meg Whitman loses bid for governor domain names | Pinsent Masons LLP
    Former eBay chief Meg Whitman has lost a claim she filled for several domain names that contained her name including and four other domain names that she says exploit her fame. An arbitration body said that fame is not enough to assert common law trade mark rights over a name.

    Ex-eBay Head Whitman Aims To Claim Domain Names — EBay Meg …
    Several of the domain names are related to her potential run for California governor, including and She sued and lost.

    (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
  4. willie says:

    What is the legal definition of “harming”???

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    • zaphod says:

      Hey willie you got the google toolbar on your side?

      (-2) 4 Total Votes - 1 up - 3 down
      • willie says:

        No, I don’t use google, I’m sharing my knowledge and experience with my neighbors, don’t get your you saying?

        (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
        • zaphod says:

          When you post a question, What is the legal definition of “harming”??? any reader would suppose you require an answer, right ?

          (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
          • willie says:

            Thats the problem, what scares me is who is doing the interpretation. I understand intimadating, threating, and defrauding but harming “the answer” can somewhat be open ended or taken personal, usually what squeaks the most gets the grease.

            (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
          • Spork says:

            Zaphod Your doing it wrong, try this

            (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
            • zaphod says:


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              • willie says:

                I Can’t emphasis this enough, it’s a good law for the most part.

                Example: Zaphod , go screw with Goggle, can be interpreted as harming or offensive.
                Example: Zaphod screw with yourself instead of screwing others, can be interpreted as offensive.
                Example: Zaphod, this might be way over your head, may also be construed insulting.

                These examples are how Penal code section 528.5 can initially be used as probable cause stretch leading to disturbing the type of peace or joy your accustomed to or being offended by replies that may have truth to it in online forums or social media.

                No more time for you, go talk to mommy.

                (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
  5. danika says:

    What is the legal definition of “credibly”???

    (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
    • willie says:

      Credibility itself can be a legal convincing weight in a matter.
      Credibility tends to be given to those in position of power, wealth or authority.
      Being harmed can be construed or interpreted from being offended by opinions even when tangent to some factual inferences or truth.
      Just saying it can be, not that it will be, but if you look at some of the indiscretions self-serving discretion’s used, it does provoke some vigilance.
      But I need to repeat myself, for the most part this is a good law, especially in the wake of the recent crimes locally and nationally.

      (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
    • willie says:

      To a layman, to a cop, to the courts, to a con-artist or an honest person???????
      The words that initially come to my mine is believable, convincing.
      This is sort of pety, can you be more specific?

      (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
    • willie says:

      You did bring up a good question, as I said in my post, there is room to stretch. But if you want a layman’s definition check Goggle’s dictionary (I am not familiar with Goggle), if you want a legal definition Goggle’s reference on the California Evidence Code, If you want a LE or Criminal definition ask them, I am sure they will differ.

      (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  6. willie says:

    Good law when needed and properly applied.
    Penal Code, means it can be enforced at a local level.
    There is a little bit in there that allows stretching and abuse.
    Not that LE will prevail for stretching but the legal cost to defend yourself.
    This law has evolved out of specific necessity but there is room for harassment.
    Being a misdemenaor commited in open web public or officer’s presence (i.e. reasonable belief or suspicion of) will not require a citizen’s complaint for boys like the NTF to break down your door.
    Mostly a good law but has a little bit of space for witch hunting.
    Maybe free speech better return to the cave (Aristotle’s Allegory of the Cave).

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down

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