Online Impersonation

Did you know it’s illegal to impersonate someone online in Texas? You should remember to declare your parody twitter account as such, or you might run afoul of Texas Penal Code 33.07, Online Impersonation.

What’s the Law on Online Impersonation in Texas?

Texas Penal Code 33.07(a)- It’s against the law to create a website or social media profile using the name of someone else, without their permission, or to send messages using another person’s name, without their permission, but only if you intend to harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten any person.

Texas Penal Code 33.07(b)- It’s against the law to send email, texts, instant message with a fake name, fake domain URL, fake phone number etc if your intent is to defraud another person and if the recipient would reasonably believe that you are the person you claim to be, and if you don’t have permission to use the name/number/URL. Think email phishing scams.

How Bad is it? What is the Punishment?

It is a 3rd-degree felony (2-10 TDC).

Any Defenses?

Yes, if you are an employee of one of the following-

  1. a commercial social networking site;
  2. an Internet service provider;
  3. an interactive computer service, as defined by 47 U.S.C. Section 230;
  4. a telecommunications provider, as defined by Section 002, Utilities Code
  5. a video service provider or cable service provider, as defined by Section 002, Utilities Code.
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