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Court Weighs Severity of Impersonation On The Internet

On Tuesday, the state Court of Appeals listened to a case that will likely create waves, and set a precedent, regarding the anonymous nature of posts made on the internet.

Raphael Golb, son of a Dead Sea Scroll Scholar, assumed a false identity online, in order to discredit scholars who were in a professional dispute against the man’s father, regarding the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Raphael’s lawyer, Ronald Kuby, argues that the actions taken are not criminal. He argues, “Since 1965, the law has been that these types of repetitional harms are beyond the scope of criminal law.”

Kuby argued that in People V. Golb, 72, that the Manhattan DA’s office overreached by charging Golb with 2 felonies, and 28 misdemeanors, for his activities between 2006 and 2009. Golb used aliases on the Internet to discredit scholars who disagreed with his father.

Arguments are being made that Golb’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech were not protected. Golb maintains his actions were an attempt at satire.

While legal arguments can be made that Golb’s actions were aimed at being satirical, the conversation cannot end there. His actions had some rumination of criminal activity, to say the least. One could argue, had he not been caught, his actions could have ended the career of the individual whom he was impersonating.

To learn more about this interesting criminal case here are some great links:

NYTimes

New York Law Journal

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