Senate Bill 1411 took effect a couple of days ago. Now it's illegal to make fun of people. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration. But so far exaggeration has yet to be made illegal in the Golden State. Impersonation has been, though. If you sign up for Facebook or Twitter as Arnold or Sarah Palin or Zooey Deschanel, you could serve jail time.California's
The bill makes such impersonation actionable if it is "for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person." If there's one thing that's easy to quantify, it's motive, so no need to worry about this law being abused. (See what I did there? Sarcasm. Also legal. For now.)
The so-called "epersonation" law states:
"(A)ny 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 is guilty of a public offense punishable...by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment."
Yes. In California - a state within the United States - you can now be stuck in jail for a year with a guy who knifed a hooker because you signed up for a Facebook account as Joe Biden and updated his status with "Man do I love whipping ball-bearings at Malaysian sun bears."
It's happened. The suede-denim secret police have actually come for your uncool niece.