Arizona Online Impersonation Statute: R.I.P. House Bill 2004 (c. 2013)

Arizona online impersonation statute
Will Arizona be the next state to criminalize online impersonation?

Update: House Bill 2004, a 2013 proposed Arizona online impersonation statute, died in committee and never made its way into law books.

***Original Article***

Arizona legislator Michelle Ugenti pre-filed a bill proposal at the end of December that aims to criminalize online impersonation. Currently, Texas, New York, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, California and Washington all have laws against online impersonation.

The Arizona Online Impersonation Statute Would Have Made It Illegal To Create A Facebook Account Under Another Person’s Name

If Ugenti’s bill — House Bill 2004 — passes, creating a Facebook account under another person’s name will be a class 5 felony or a class 1 misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case. In Arizona, a class 5 felony can result in a 1.5-year prison sentence. People convicted of a class 1 misdemeanor can land in jail for up to 6 months.

First Amendment activists worry that the law could quell free speech. Kurt Opsah, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, explained the issue thusly:

“The problem with this and other online impersonation bills is the potential that they could be used to go after parody or social commentary activities.”

Arizona Online Impersonation Statute Backers Highlighted Bills Free Speech Safeguards

In response to critics , Ugenti countered by explaining the bill “has a high standard. It’s the impersonation without the individual’s consent and with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate and threaten.”

If you need to speak with a lawyer about an online impersonation issue, contact Kelly / Warner. We represent clients across the country.