I recently sent an email to a well-respected journalist cursing and belittling her story. A friend of mine is a top publisher of a newspaper, who recently emailed his entire newsroom berating their efforts. A school teacher I know recently sent an email attacking a student.
What do we all have in common? We were victims of e-Impersonation. Yes, e-Impersonation. That is where someone creates a fake email account, using your name and email address, and pretends to be you. It’s damaging. It’s ugly. But sadly, currently in California, it’s not necessarily illegal.
As a recent San Jose Mercury News editorial pointed out – “Impersonating someone with the intent to harm, intimidate, threaten or defraud is illegal in California – except when it’s done online.” That’s because existing state law, written in 1872, didn’t anticipate the existence of Facebook, MySpace or other internet sites.
Thanks to the determined leadership of Silicon Valley’s own State Senator Joe Simitian, this online abuse through e-Impersonation may soon be against the law. His bill, SB 1411, passed the State Senate by a near unanimous vote and is now moving through the Assembly. If you have been a victim of e-Impersonation, let me or Senator Simitian know. If you have participated in such inappropriate behavior – stop. Your actions will soon be against the law.