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Malicious online impersonation and identity theft have dramatically shifted to no longer only include fraudulent activity related to financial matters. Instead, and most alarmingly, there has been an incredible surge in malicious online impersonation and identity theft created to defame, slander, cyberstalk, cyberbully, harass and terrorize another individual in order to cause the targeted person great pain, suffering, and personal injury. Unfortunately, the ease to which this can be done is startling, the legal relief for the targeted victim limited, the consequences on the targeted victim far-reaching and potentially devestating, and the legal ramifications against the predator limited and typically having no impact whatsoever. And every person in the world is at risk of this with limited legal resources available to them.
Typically an online predator will fraudulently create a series of websites and web blog sites under the target's name, and then create untruthful and threatening information about the target.
The predator will also join various social networks and post commentary around the internet using the target's identity (typically including photographs). And almost always, the act of predatorial online impersonation is not removed to just one act, but a conspired and well-orchestrated series of acts of impersonation in order to create an online negative auroa of the target preyed upon.
Think for a moment if someone was to create several web blogs and join a handful of online social networks using your identity, then went on to place defamatory and untruthful and malicious content about you. Do you think you have swift and measurable recourse? Well, you better think again because in reality, you do not.
And unfortunately, existing laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) give service providers the right to not remove any content posted on their website posted by a third party even if a court orders the writer of the content to remove the content (certain websites simply refuse to remove content once its posted on their site and have protection under the DMCA).
New Yrok State's critically important Legislation titled the 'Digital Impersonation Prevention Act' was written by and is sponsored by Assembly Member Micah Kellner (D-Upper East Side, Yorkville). Senator Martin Golden (Republican - Kings Country) has sponsored the legislation in the Senate. If passed into law, the bill offers incredible relief against the surging acts of online impersonation and identity theft by making it a criminal offense punishable up to 1 year in jail for an individual found guilty of online impersonation.The law could be used in conjunction with other New York State criminal codes regarding identity theft, impersonation, and harassment. This is a big win for online victims because all too often a targeted victim who in the past has turned to law enforcement for assistance has wrongfully been directed to the civil courts to seek relief even though various criminal codes have been violated when a person's identity is stolen or impersonated. Now, under New York State's 'Digital Impersonation Prevention Act', the law will be clear, and so too will the protocols required from law enfocement and prosecutors.
Various studies have demonstrated that prosecution is the only deterrent against online impersonation and identity theft because many online predators may have indirect immunity with respect to court orders directed to them from a civil court. For example, the majority of individuals who act predatorily online have little or no assets, so they are not concerned with a default judgement for monetary damages. And they are not concerned with a takedown order for content because it is rather simple to repost the content taken down. And under the DMCA, they know there exists certain websites that have immunity from the state and federal courts regarding content removal.
The solution to this growing problem that has seen an extraordinary number of innocent targeted victim's lives destroyed by malicious predators who have conspired to defraud another is to prosecute under criminal law these individuals. New York State's 'Digital Impersonation Prevention Act', if passed, will offer a swift and measurable deterrent against online impersonation and identity theft as it will send a clear message to all predators that their fraudulent and evil acts are no longer outside of the reach of meaningful law.
By signing the petition, you are letting the New York State legislators know how important the 'Digital Impersonation Prevention Act' legislation is (Assembly A6238. Senate S4015-2011). With the State of California having the only truly encompassing specified criminal laws in the nation at this time (Texas law makes it a Class 3 Felonly to impersonate another on social networks), you are also telling lawmakers everywhere how important this issue is to you and that you support new legislation everywhere that will address the malicious crime of online impersonation and identity theft conspired to cause great injury to another.
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