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Online Impersonations Now Illegal In California 217

theodp writes "TechCrunch's Michael Arrington reports that a California bill criminalizing online impersonations went into effect on January 1st. 'There has to be intent to harm, intimidate, threaten, or defraud another person — not necessarily the person you are impersonating,' explains Arrington. 'Free speech issues, including satire and parody, aren't addressed in the text of the bill. The courts will likely sort it out.' So, Fake Steve Jobs, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?'"
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Online Impersonations Now Illegal In California

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  • by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Sunday January 02, 2011 @11:04AM (#34737244)
    fyi - There were actually 725 new laws [] in California on 01/01/2011 ... and this one posted above is just 1 of them.
  • by will_die ( 586523 ) on Sunday January 02, 2011 @11:11AM (#34737282) Homepage
    If you read the article and text of the law 'There has to be intent to harm, intimidate, threaten, or defraud another person — not necessarily the person you are impersonating,'
    Fake Steve Jobs is known to be fake. Articles on The Onion are known to be satire, and sometimes even funny. Comedy videos on youtube are known that they don't come from the impersonated person.
    The only way fake steve Jobs would get in problem is if the fake was removed and person doing it started to do things to make people thing he was the actual Steve Jobs.
    All this means is that California has upgraded their laws so that stuff you couldn't previously do in physical print you can now not do online.
  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <> on Sunday January 02, 2011 @05:57PM (#34739730) Homepage

    Ever hear of someone being charged with a hate crime for hitting a white person?

    Yes, actually. May I suggest that next time you have a question about crime statistics, you head over to the FBI's website and scope out the Uniform Crime Reports? There, you could learn that for 2009, there were 668 victims of racially motivated hate crimes against whites [], including 3 murders, 2 rapes, 113 aggravated assaults, and 191 simple assaults. I don't know how many of these were solved, charged, or convicted, but appearance in the UCR means the cops labeled it a hate crime.

    Or you could use a little Google-fu before you spout off about how "I've never heard about XYZ happening!" You would have quickly found out, for example, about Ronald Taylor, a black man who in 2000 was charged with hate crimes after a murder spree targeting white people. [] He was convicted and sentenced to death []; one of the prosecution's arguments against the insanity defense was that he was "competent" enough to only target whites.

    All this hate crime bullshit is nothing but racism, pure and simple. You hit or kill someone, you go to jail. It shouldn't matter what color or sex they are.

    The problem is that that wasn't happening. People have been known to get away with beating and killing gays, blacks, Jews, Mexicans, women, etc., because of indifference in broader society. There's also the fact that such crimes are often intended not just as assaults against individuals but as threats against other members of that group: "This'll teach those (gays, blacks, Jews, Mexicans, women, etc.) what happens if they try to (move here, vote, get a job, fall in love with the wrong type of person, etc.)!"

    Now, I don't think laws that just increase penalties for crimes against gays, blacks, Jews, Mexicans, women, etc., are the right solution. Assaulting people is a crime; threatening people is a crime; the law ought to be crafted such that assaulting people in a manner that is intended as a threat to a group is prosecuted as both an assault and a threat.

    But we have to acknowledge that there is a problem that these laws are trying to solve. And not all hate crime laws are about stiffer penalties based on "protected classes"; some are about enforcement. A law that makes cops arrest assaulters, even if the assaultee was gay, black, Jewish, Mexican, a women, etc., is a good hate crime law. A law that gather statistics on hate crimes is a good hate crime law. A law that calls for different types of rehabilitation efforts for a hate crime perpetrator versus someone needing anger management therapy might, depending on details, be a good hate crime law. (That's pretending, of course, that our prison-industrial complex gave a damn about rehabilitation.)

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Sunday January 02, 2011 @08:14PM (#34740284) Journal

    The second argument for the harsher punishments for hate crimes is to protect minorities from oppression from the dominant majority. Yes, this means that white Chrisitan heterosexuals will not get the full protection in a white Christian country, as they already belong to the majority.

    That's the BS part. What you're basically saying is that members of the majority shouldn't get as much protection from oppression on the ground of their ethnicity/religion/etc simply because they're already better off in other areas, and so it all "evens out". That's the most disgusting perversion of the rule of law that can happen - the law is either one and the same, treating everyone equally, and then it is just; or there are different laws for different people, and then it's segregation in disguise.

"Remember, extremism in the nondefense of moderation is not a virtue." -- Peter Neumann, about usenet