Arizona Politician Parodied By Fake Twitter Accounts Pushes Bill To Make Online Impersonation A Felony
from the be-careful-who-you-parody dept
It’s become quite common these days to see people set up “fake” social network profiles for certain people as a way to parody them. There have been a few lawsuits here and there over such fake profiles, but should they be a crime? As noted by the Citizen Media Law Project, Arizona State Representative Michelle Ugenti has proposed a bill that would make it a class 5 felony to impersonate someone online “with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate or threaten.” That last part, obviously, limits the purely parodical accounts, but the definitions of those words could be quite broad, and the risk of an overly broad interpretation is quite real. Considering that class 5 felonies in Arizona come with a “presumptive sentence of a year and a half imprisonment,” you would hope that the definitions here would be a lot clearer.
Of course, as the CMLP article notes, you have to wonder if Ugenti proposed this bill for personal reasons — seeing as there are some parody twitter accounts for her, specifically @RubbingUGently and @RepMUgenti. It seems that Rep. Ugenti got some attention for snapping at a bunch of students, who would be charged $2,000 more (regardless of their financial aid setup) to attend university in the state, “welcome to life,” and for making a hacky masturbation joke during committee hearings. If you want, the quip is at 2:14:30, and involves another committee member asking how long the hearings are going to run, and saying that he has “a hot date” that he wants to get to, leading her to say: “No you don’t. Stop it. Your right hand doesn’t count.” All clearly overheard on microphone.
Would those parody accounts be subject to this new law? CMLP suggests they would likely be protected under the First Amendment, but of course, it could involve a long and convoluted trial to prove that point. Just the threat of jail time could create serious chilling effects on parody speech. As for Rep. Ugenti being concerned about fake Twitter and Facebook profiles, perhaps she should take her own advice: “welcome to life.”
Filed Under: arizona, felony, impersonation, michelle ugenti, parody, social media
Comments on “Arizona Politician Parodied By Fake Twitter Accounts Pushes Bill To Make Online Impersonation A Felony”
Ah, Streissand Effect.
The winning move here would be to make fun along with the parodies and get a lot more accepted for being easy going and reasonable. But no. Carreon, meet Ugenti.
In her defense, she hasn’t carreoned yet.
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You mean, she hasn’t carreoned right off the political roadmap?
Ugenti should be mindful of the saying “Be careful what you wish for. You may just get it.”
Should the bill pass to law, she’ll be charged the class 5 felony for parodying a government official, whose responsibility is to serve the public, not herself.
“As Think Progress noted, nearly 100 Arizona students attended the committee hearing to speak out against the bill, HB 2675, expressing concern that it would make it more difficult for many students to afford college. Rep. Michelle Ugenti (R-Scottsdale) responded bluntly in favor of the new measure: “Welcome to life.”
Fuck You Ugenti !!! Hope to see a Million Ugenti Fake Parodies !
But better yet I hope to see a lot of the GOP losing Seats in the next Election.
They have become a great impediment to our Freedom.
No you don’t. Stop it. Your right hand doesn’t count.
Arizona, take of the rainbow shades …
Probably never heard of exceptions such as parody and free speech…
3.2.1….now it will be 50 accounts her.
And, yet, if the politician were profiting from it in some way, they would be all for online parodies.
No discussion of fake twitter accounts is complete without a link to Miguel Bloombito.
How about a law that says if a politician is so thin skinned that he or she has to create new laws because he or she can’t take being made fun of they face lifetime imprisonment. If their lucky the prosecutor will take sympathy and offer a plea deal of only 10 years.
I think she should change her last name to ‘Moron’, it would better represent her policies, ‘Michelle Moron’, since she gets so many sexual jokes, but she’s not a sex obsessed politician, she’s a just a simple short sighted hot headed moron.
I think, in light and honor of this new initiative, that ALL regular Techdirt posters should immediately cease and desist impersonating themselves on Techdirt!
I’m not an AC but I inpersonate one sometimes.
COME AT ME SIS
Sounds like California's Statute ...
We have Penal Code ?528.5 in CA, which makes it a misdemeanor to do essentially the same thing.
528.5. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any 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 pursuant to subdivision (d).
I haven’t heard any stories of abuse of the statute, but then I haven’t been looking.
A few weeks ago, I would have thought it not likely ripe for prosecutorial abuse. Not so much now.
Re: Sounds like California's Statute ...
… but at least it says “credibly impersonates” which should protect the parodists … but perhaps not the satirists…
Why is she not being honest and saying she wants a law that makes poking fun at politicians a felony worth life in prison.
Re: Then she would go to prison...
…for poking fun at the other guy to begin with.
How do idiots like this get elected? Shame on those of you who voted for her.
when a politician does something wrong, even when very wrong, like calling the leader of Iran ‘a monkey’, it’s not only ‘ok’, but anyone that brings it to the attention of others is told to ‘chill out’. when someone does something like this TO a politician, all of a sudden there is a new law in the offering to get the behaviour banned! how strange it is that they can dish out but not take back! another example of just how selfish and self-centered these arse holes we have ‘protecting us’ really are!
To be fair, unless the congress critter is the very same one acting in both ways, you cannot make that accusation of hypocrisy.
I dunno, with a reaction like this parody twitter accounts might be a bit over the top, given the woman is already a walking joke.
You have to wonder what these lawmakers are thinking when they decide that fake accounts are worth a class 5 felony.
Basically Rep. Ugenti would rather be punched in the face (misdemeanor assault)than made fun of on a fake twitter account.
Correct, being punched in the face might improve her chances of re-election from a sympathy vote, being parodied may hurt her reflection chance by drawing attention to her faults.
That piece of shit should be arrested, tried, and hung for treason to even suggest such a thing. It’s goes against the very foundation that this nation was built upon ffs.
I mean really, his job is to make decisions that is in the best interest of Americans and not himself..
Ben Franklin would have been the first to break this law. I still say he was the original troll.
actually, that was probably Galileo; he trolled the pope back in the day
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Cervantes came before him and trolled the whole Spanish nobility.
Why am I not surprised she is a Republican.
They often enjoy belittling the small people and it should be high treason if someone belittles her.
I look forward to even more accounts coming out of the woodwork, and her wasting more taxpayer time and money trying to make it criminal to mock her.
Politicians think it should be illegal to parody their ignorance, yet it’s perfectly fine to post videos making fun of rape victims. Is it just me, or are our priorities a little screwed up these days?
So instead of parody accounts parody hash tags will proliferate. #HARepMUgneti [followed by joke here]
Sorry, the SC all ready ruled against such a law
This has all ready made it to the supreme court. If you are a celebrity or a politician, you might as well give up stopping a parody or someone picking on you. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
When will politicians ever learn that state lawmakers cannot pass laws that directly conflict with Federal or constitutional laws. You cannot pass a law that has a conflict with the first amendment. While you can try, there isn’t any court in the land that would allow any such state law to remain.
Instead, this lawmaker is going to end up wasting taxpayer dollars on a law that will be struck down by the Federal courts.
Maybe she shouldn’t be such an asswipe in public.
Fortunately, statutes aren't copyrighted?
Ugenti cribbed the Arizona statute from Texas’s, which hasn’t been tested in the appellate courts yet, but we’re working on it.
Please see this and this.