ZDNet's Tech Broiler provides an analysis of SB 1411 which goes into effect on Jan. 1. The new Bill creates civil and criminal liablity for, as well as attorneys fees against, "any person who knowingly and without consent credibly impersonates another actual person through or on an Internet Web site or by other electronic means for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person". The law is aimed to help victims of on-line harassment -- specifically based on "credible" impersonations -- by providing for damages, injunctive relief and attorneys fees for civil enforcement. The civil enforcement tools are important for victims of on-line harassment who often lack resources to stop the harassment. However, it remains to be seen how this law will fair against First Amendment concerns, especially with respect to paradoy or satire. I am especially curious what role the Anti-SLAPP statute in California will play in any enforcement action where issues of public concern are in question. Whether enforcement of this law will strike a fair balance between free speech rights and the truly devastating harms caused by anonymous on-line harassment, remains to be seen.
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