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Internet impersonation law passes state Legislature

Bill outlawing 'e-personation' awaits Schwarzenegger's signature

A bill that would make it a misdemeanor to maliciously impersonate someone on the Internet was passed by the state legislature this week.

SB 1411, authored by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, passed unanimously in both the Senate and the Assembly, Simitian's office said Thursday.

Simitian said the bill updates California's "outdated" impersonation laws to include online applications such as impersonation via e-mail and social networking, or so-called "e-personation."

"In the age of the Internet, pretending to be someone else is as easy as using their name to create a new e-mail account," Simitian said in a statement. "When that is done to cause harm, folks need a law on the books they can turn to."

Under the law, a victim can be either a person whose identity is assumed or a third person being harassed, according to Simitian.

Those convicted could face a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year in jail, and possible civil litigation.

The bill now moves to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for approval.

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