ASSEMBLY, No. 4143

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 20, 2011

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  RUBEN J. RAMOS, JR.

District 33 (Hudson)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     The “Digital Impersonation Prevention Act.”

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning digital impersonation and supplementing Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Digital Impersonation Prevention Act.”

 

     2.    As used in this act:

     “Bulk messages” means the transmission of electronic mail, instant messages, or social networking postings, that are published to more than one unique recipient; and

     “Commercial solicitations” means any advertisement related to the availability or quality of any property, goods, or services, or transmission of a hyperlink to an Internet website or uniform resource locator with any material advertising the availability or quality of any property, goods, or services;

     “Contact list” means any list of third-party contact names, addresses, landline telephone numbers, cellular telephone numbers, facsimile telephone numbers, electronic mail addresses, instant message names, or other information used for contacting individuals;

     “Electronic means” means creating an electronic mail account in another person’s name, or creating an account or profile on a social networking Internet website in another person’s name; accessing another person’s pre-existing electronic mail account or another person’s account or profile on a social networking Internet website; or altering the identifying properties of electronic mail, an electronic mail header, or other form of digital communication, to make it appear as if the electronic mail or other communication originated from a another person without that person’s express consent; and

     “Uniform resource locator” means the electronic address of an Internet website that specifies the location on the Internet where the information on the website is located, and the means for retrieving the information from an Internet website.

 

     3.    a.  A person commits the crime of “digital impersonation” and is guilty of a crime of the third degree if the person knowingly, with the intent to defraud and without consent, credibly impersonates another actual person through or on an Internet website, or by other electronic means for the purposes of:

     (1)  harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person;

     (2)  transmitting unsolicited commercial solicitations or unsolicited bulk messages; or

     (3)  copying, accessing, downloading, or utilizing a contact list.

     b.    As used in this section, an impersonation is credible if another person would reasonably believe, or did reasonably believe, that the impersonator was or is the person who was impersonated.

     c.     A person who is convicted of the crime of “digital impersonation” pursuant to subsection a. of this section, shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $1,000 or imprisonment not to exceed one year, or both fine and imprisonment.

     d.    In addition to any other civil remedy, a person who suffers damage or loss as a result of a violation of subsection a. of this section may bring a civil action against the violator for statutory damages of $500 per occurrence, compensatory damages, and injunctive relief or other equitable relief.  If the court finds that the violator willfully or knowingly violated subsection a. of this section, the court may, in its discretion, increase the amount of the award for damages to an amount equal to not more than three times the amount available under this subsection.  As used in this section, “occurrence” includes each act of creating an electronic mail account in another person’s name, or creating an account or profile on a social networking Internet website in another person’s name, accessing another person’s pre-existing electronic mail account or another person’s account or profile on a social networking Internet website, or altering the identifying properties of electronic mail, an electronic mail header, or other form of digital communication, to make it appear that the electronic mail or other digital communication originated from a different source, and the transmission of an unsolicited commercial solicitation to a unique recipient.

     e.     This section shall not be construed to impose any liability on an Internet service provider, interactive computer service, computer hardware or software provider, or website operator or administrator, or its employees, unless the provider, operator, administrator, or employee is the person impersonating an actual person.  Nothing in this section is intended to preclude other common law causes of action against these entities, and may not be construed to limit any other civil cause of action available to a person under statute or common law or any criminal prosecution.

 

     4.    This act shall take effect on the 90th day following the date of enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill, entitled the “Digital Impersonation Prevention Act,” makes it a crime of the third degree for a person knowingly, with intent to defraud, and without consent, to credibly impersonate another actual person through or on an Internet website or by other electronic means for the purpose of harming another person, transmitting unsolicited bulk messages or commercial solicitations, or copying or accessing a contact list.

     A person committing the crime of “digital impersonation” is subject to a fine not to exceed $1,000, or imprisonment not to exceed one year, or both.  In addition, a person who is harmed as a result of another person committing the crime of “digital impersonation” may bring a civil action for statutory damages of $500 per occurrence, compensatory damages, and injunctive or other equitable relief against the violator.