News

Bill would criminalize 'online impersonation'

Written by Craig Layne and Radio Pennsylvania | Oct 6, 2012 7:23 AM

keyboardfingers.jpg(Harrisburg) -- State lawmakers are discussing a measure to make "online impersonation" a crime.

Representative Kathy Watson says her bill would only apply to the use of fake Websites or social media personas used to bully, threaten or defraud victims.

The Bucks County Republican says online parody and satire would not be made illegal.

"It's interesting the analogy I got from two different sources that it's the wild west out there on the Internet," Watson says. "It's the 1880s, and you need to put at least some kind of restriction that gives people parameters because some people don't observe it."

Watson says the issue was first brought to her attention by a teacher in her district -- who had two students fake her online identity to harass another pupil.

The House Judiciary Committee has passed the measure, sending it to the full chamber.

If it becomes law, the crime would be graded as a first-degree misdemeanor, the same as identity theft.

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