Dr. Peter Gleick may have run afoul of a new cyber-impersonation law in California

WUWT commenter “The Duke” writes:

I just sent the following letter to Senator Joe Simitian (D- Palo Alto) regarding Dr. Gleick’s apparent violation of SB 1411 which went into effect January 1st, 2011.

Dear Senator Simitian:

I am writing to you regarding possible violations of the impersonations law (SB 1411) you authored and successfully guided through the California legislature into law. It appears that Bay Area Scientist Dr. Peter Gleick has violated the law you wrote by impersonating a member of the Board of Directors at the Heartland Institute in Chicago in order to obtain privileged information from that private organization. Mr. Gleick has confessed to violating the law in a column on the Huffington Post. Here is a link to that column:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-h-gleick/heartland-institute-documents_b_1289669.html

As SB 1411 is a new law and, as the violation of privacy is particularly egregious in this case, I think it important that it be vigorously enforced. Enforcement would also serve to educate the public about the illegality of impersonating a fellow citizen.

I have read that this is a law that needs to be enforced by local law enforcement officials. Although I do not know where Mr. Gleick lives, I am writing to you in hopes that you might use your influence to see that the law enforcement officials in the Bay Area city in which he lives are aware of his offense and will act accordingly.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

[theduke]

More info:

http://www.senatorsimitian.com/entry/sb_1411_criminal_e_personation/

Summary

Senate Bill 1411 would make it unlawful to knowingly and without consent credibly impersonate another person through or on an Internet Web site or by other electronic means with the intent to harm, intimidate, threaten or defraud another person.

Current law addressing false impersonation is outdated and was not drafted with the technologies of the 21st century in mind.  SB 1411 brings us up to date by making these forms of cyber impersonation a punishable offense.

SB 1411 would add upon existing criminal penalties by providing a civil remedy, whereby anyone who suffers damage or loss as a victim of false impersonation perpetrated through the Internet or other electronic means may bring a civil action against the violator for compensatory damages and injunctive relief.

After this bill passed the Legislature, Senator Simitian sent a letter to the Governor urging his signature on this bill.

For more information, you can read the SB 1411 “Fact Sheet” prepared by a member of Senator Simitian’s staff.

California State Senate

SENATOR

S. JOSEPH SIMITIAN

ELEVENTH SENATE DISTRICT

DISTRICT OFFICE

160 Town & Country Village

Palo Alto, CA 94301

(650) 688-6384

Fax (650) 688-6370

SATELLITE OFFICE

701 Ocean Street, Room 318A

Santa Cruz, CA 95060

(831) 425-0401

Fax (831) 425-5124

STATE CAPITOL

SACRAMENTO, CA 95814

(916) 651-4011

Fax (916) 323-4529

E-MAIL

Senator.Simitian@sen.ca.gov

WEBSITE

http://www.sen.ca.gov/simitian

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William McClenney

“a stern chase after a lie is a long one.”

Richard Sharpe

Well, unintended consequences can be a b*tch.
However, it will depend on whether or not Governor Moonbeam signed it into law, so maybe Gleick is safe.
REPLY: It is actually law now, it has been signed – Anthony

Damage6

Will see how vigorously this senator supports his won legislation when it’s one of their own breaking the law. Me thinks……not so much.

I read the link “letter to the govenor” and had a quiet chuckle (remember I’m down-under) – it was addressed “The Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger” ……. I’ll be back !!!!
Sorrry, it may seem very logical to the US citizen to elect a b-movie “star” as a govenor – and in many respects it does I suppose – is there any significant difference in required qualities?
Excellent post – just enjoyed the ambience

Gixxerboy

A California Democrat going after Gleick? Love your optimism.

O. M. Gosh

viffer

Nice one. The cam on the scamshaft is approaching top-dead-centre. The more-savvy of the CAGW disciples are en route to Damascus. They are cognizant that a conversion, ahead of the stampede, will have first-mover advantage in future employment prospects and the “How I exposed the CAGW Scam” book deals.
Operation BACKPEDAL is happening. You will cough up a skeleton when Operation I NEVER REALLY MEANT THAT starts. Bring it on, and the fraud/conspiracy charges.

Bill Jamison

I’ve posted a few times that Gleick likely violated California Penal Code Section 528.5 which went into effect on Jan 1, 2011 (not 2012 as claimed in the post, see link in the post for confirmation). Here is the text of PC 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).
(b) For purposes of this section, an impersonation is credible if
another person would reasonably believe, or did reasonably believe,
that the defendant was or is the person who was impersonated.
(c) For purposes of this section, “electronic means” shall include
opening an e-mail account or an account or profile on a social
networking Internet Web site in another person’s name.
(d) A violation of subdivision (a) is punishable by a fine not
exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a
county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and
imprisonment.
(e) In addition to any other civil remedy available, a person who
suffers damage or loss by reason of a violation of subdivision (a)
may bring a civil action against the violator for compensatory
damages and injunctive relief or other equitable relief pursuant to
paragraphs (1), (2), (4), and (5) of subdivision (e) and subdivision
(g) of Section 502.
(f) This section shall not preclude prosecution under any other
law.
Subsection C makes it clear that creating an email account in someone else’s name is a violation when used to defraud or impersonate another person.
REPLY: year fixed, thanks – Anthony

Steptoe Fan

let every possible punishment rain down on his sorry, stupid, liberal head.

Kozlowski

Does a telephone call count as “other electronic means” or does this bill specifically and only target internet usage?
Because Peter Gleick, from what we have been told, used the telephone to call Heartland.
I think the bill is about cyber impersonation.
OTOH, Gleick impersonated a board member of Heartland when he drafted the fake memo. That memo, without question, was used with the intent to defraud and it was sent via the internet. So perhaps this law does apply after all.
Any lawyers here care to comment?

These laws are for thee, not for we the elite.

Lew Skannen

aaahhhh! So nice!
When I see these kinds of threads on WUWT I don’t read them immediately.
Instead I maximize the window and then go off and make a nice mug of hot tea. As it is brewing I find a couple of biscuits and put them on a little plate. I add a nice dollop of milk and then head back to the computer, settle back into my comfy chair and slowly read and cherish the little gems…

Skiphil

oh my, oh my…. this new law seems to be made for Gleickgate but will Calif. CAGWarmists allow prosecution? Can they permit their own pet law to be subverted? Such decisions….
p.s. Tweet of the day from Lucia quoting comment at TAV:
lucia liljegren ‏ @lucialiljegren
Comment at TAV: I would love to discuss the finer points of Mannian mathmagic sometime, but Gleick has just crashed the Hindenburg.

oMan

Looks pretty real to me. Here is a link to what appears to be the official California laws website. Penal Code 528.5 is the Simitian SB1411. What puzzles me is the effective date –it has been on the books for over a year? If so, it makes Gleick’s activity appear even more reckless; if that’s possible. Whoever suffers damage or loss from the impersonation would have standing to seek compensation from the impersonator. Who is injured here? Heartland may not be the only one…
http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_1401-1450/sb_1411_bill_20100927_chaptered.html

Hoser

Why would they enforce the law this time? After all, Gleick meant well. Right? Aw, give the guy a break since he was working for the Team. Yeah, right.
Ah, but wait till some bad ol’ skeptic maybe does something a littly off….
There was another story today about two idiots who stole a $385 ice sculpture. They are going to be prosecuted for, get this, FELONY larceny. Stealing ice? Is everything a felony? Well, maybe not. I believe you can legally crack someone over the head if you are a member of a union on strike.

Bill Jamison

SB 1411 became section 528.5 of the California Penal Code and it went into effect on January 1, 2011 not 2012 as stated in the post.
I’ve posted the text of the section a couple of times in threads here and over at Lucia’s.

Ben Harman

Great idea, in principle. But the rules are for us, not them. I doubt it will be enforced. It’s the same story with Obama and his “birth certificate”. The guy was due in court, didn’t show up and got off Scott free. Typical.

Just wondering…… What Gleick has done, as I understand it, clearly in violation of federal law(it went beyond state lines-crime), and now I see that it is also in violation of state law.
Let me guess ….. the justice dept. will get to that just as soon as they finish up with the serial dead people voting often and early thing…… that would be right before Cali collars him for this obvious and blatant crime.
Honestly, I thought of phoning the FBI in cali, but then I realized that nothing would come of it. Call me cynical, but I’ve seen how both roll. Peter Gleick considered himself above the law, and so does the law. An arrest should have been made as soon as Gleick’s confession hit HuffPo…. how long has it been? They’re prolly collecting evidence and whatnot. I believe it’s called, “impunity”.

Skiphil

Well someone had better inform the Editors at “Nature” because they seem confident that a tiny verbal slap on the wrist will be enough to make this all go away:
Editorial in “Nature”

philincalifornia

FBI contacted:
http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/washington-secrets/2012/02/fbi-called-over-climate-change-mole/305161
Since he already confessed, the FBI should take this one. Not exactly a whole lot of difficult work to catch the perpetrator.

philincalifornia

PS Gleick’s attorney:
http://www.kvn.com/Lawyers/Keker-John
Noted San Francisco criminal defense lawyer.

theduke
McComberBoy

I hope this goes somewhere, but… When you consider how many millions have been spent trying to prosecute high profile athletes it quickly becomes apparent that prosecutors are much more interested in cases that can get them on television than in prosecuting cases that redress evil. Nobody cares who stuck which needle full of which substance into their gluteus. This ‘look at me’ kind of rot goes all the way through the system from city, to county, to state, to federal attorneys. No more breath holding folks. But on the other hand we shouldn’t give up all hope that right will prevail and wrong will be punished.
Maybe the way to put this in perspective is to consider how far the ball has moved in just the last eighteen months. For american football fans it was fourth and twenty seven on our own ten yard line not so very long ago. (For everyone else that describes a nearly impossible situation.) Now it’s more like first and ten on our own thirty. Keep going Captain Anthony!

theduke

Where Gleick lives could be a problem. From the line above:

. . . The law will be enforced by local law enforcement, but the state attorney general’s office could also get involved, Simitian said.

If Gleick lives in Berkeley, there could be a problem. Or Oakland, for that matter.

theduke

Bill Jamison: I was not aware of your posts on this subject. I did a google on “Impersonation California Law” today and found the link to sfappeal.com above.

Reading Simitian’s “fact sheet,” there is no definition of impersonation. Clearly Gleick would be covered, as he represented himself as a particular real person other than himself. What I am wondering is whether the law might also consider it “impersonation” to play some fictious person other than oneself. That is, does it outlaw using aliases?
Given the lack of clarification, I could see this being used for all kinds of mischief, even bringing charges against people on dating sites for using fake names and misrepresenting themselves. Hey, he/she “impersonated” a younger thinner man/women!
More seriously, companies might try to bring charges against employees for misrepresenting their qualifications. Given the prevalence of aliases/creative-representation on the internet, you would think the author of such a supposedly internet savvy bill would have realized the need to clarify the meaning of “impersonation”!

Okay, the wording of the law itself answers my question. It does NOT criminalize the use of aliases:

This bill would provide that any person who knowingly and without consent credibly impersonates another actual person through or on an Internet Web site or by other electronic means, as specified, for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person is guilty of a misdemeanor. [emphasis added]

Steven Hales

Going after comrade in Peoples Republic of San Francisco…I laugh at your face capitalist stooge. — Vladimir Putin

Ally E.

Lew Skannen says:
February 23, 2012 at 8:51 pm
“aaahhhh! So nice!
When I see these kinds of threads on WUWT I don’t read them immediately.
Instead I maximize the window and then go off and make a nice mug of hot tea. As it is brewing I find a couple of biscuits and put them on a little plate. I add a nice dollop of milk and then head back to the computer, settle back into my comfy chair and slowly read and cherish the little gems…”
Beautiful, Lew! This sums it up for me.

Jenn Oates

Ouch.
There must be a petard around here somewhere…

DirkH

Alec Rawls says:
February 23, 2012 at 9:42 pm
“Okay, the wording of the law itself answers my question. It does NOT criminalize the use of aliases:
This bill would provide that any person who knowingly and without consent credibly impersonates another actual person through or on an Internet Web site or by other electronic means,”
AFAIK part of Gleick’s ruse was to create an e-mail account with the name of one of the board members of HI as part of the e-mail address so that would indicate he wanted to impersonate that particular real person. And e-mail is an internet based technology, so it looks like it sticks.

dtbronzich

Cyber crimes across state lines must be reported to several authorities; Law enforcement where the crime was commissioned, or planned, where the crime was committed (i.e. Illinois) to the Federal authorities whose responsibilities oversee such crimes as interstate commission of fraud, fraud intended to defame (obscure, but real). Since money did not change hands, neither the FTC or Treasury Department would be involved, just the FBI and U.S. Marshall’s office.

Mike M

And the hilarity continues… All those Huffpo commenters who have already posted every conceivable lame excuse in the universe to excuse Gleick’s fraudulent activity will hopefully soon find themselves putting a new bumper sticker on their fossil fueled cars:
FREE PETER GLEICK!
(Schadenfreude squared, boy it must suck to be them right now! )

Joshua corning

What a stupid law.
I’m no fan of the fraud Gleick but prisons are filled already with too may non-violent offenders.
Go after him in civil court and the court of public opinion. Don’t waste tax payer money when it can be used to prosecute rapists, thugs and murders on this horse crap.

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make insanely overconfident.
Oh, hi, Peter! How’s the ego-balloon today?

MikeH

From a link previously noted above:
http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/washington-secrets/2012/02/fbi-called-over-climate-change-mole/305161

Heartland officials tell Washington Secrets that they have been in talks with the FBI over the case against prominent global warming proponent Peter Gleick, co-founder of the respected Pacific Institute.

Now, I’m not an expert on the English language (but I’ll play on on the net), doesn’t that sentence state he is in favor of global warming? It just shows how clueless the national media is on the subject, or they just don’t know how to write. Could Peter Gleick consider that slander? That fact is, none of us are Proponents of global warming (unless you were in Eastern Europe this winter), there is a difference on the cause and if humans can effect change.

MikeH

Steven Hales said on February 23, 2012 at 9:42 pm
Going after comrade in Peoples Republic of San Francisco…I laugh at your face capitalist stooge. — Vladimir Putin

Just think, a jury of his peers. Now that is peer review… (hearing whispers of not guilty in the air as I type this)

MikeH

Mike M said on February 23, 2012 at 10:36 pm
And the hilarity continues… All those Huffpo commenters who have already posted every conceivable lame excuse in the universe to excuse Gleick’s fraudulent activity will hopefully soon find themselves putting a new bumper sticker on their fossil fueled cars:
FREE PETER GLEICK!

Hey now, I consider myself a capitalist, can I make some $$ off this with some tee shirts?
Free Peter!

Ian H

“… harm intimidate threaten or defraud …”
intimidate – no ; threaten – no
defraud … arguable but quite a stretch.
harm – yes you could argue this. Harm is a very broad word.
However personally I would prefer NOT to see this particular law applied to this case.
Internet and computer specific crime laws have been very popular and trendy recently with politicians. It lets them look like they are doing something useful and allows them to pretend that they are knowledgeable about computers and the internet. But the fad for passing these types of laws is very very dangerous.
Firstly there is seldom any need for them. Intimidating, threatening, defrauding and harming others are already criminal offenses without this law. So why was there a need for a specific law with extra serious penalties for doing these things with the help of a computer. See what I mean?
Laws like this are written for no better reason than to make a politician look good. Not much real thought went into them. They are frequently shockingly poorly drafted – excessively punitive and dangerously vague. There is often huge potential for them to be abused.
For example laws criminalising unauthorised use of a computer have been abused recently by corporations to charge employees caught browsing the internet while at work with a CRIMINAL offense carrying a possible penalty of many years in prison. If that seems ridiculous disproportionate and just plain crazy then it is precisely the kind of unintended consequence that arises when politicians play silly games with the loaded gun that is the law.
Laws of this type are dangerous rubbish. Steer clear of them. A charge of wire fraud fits. The legal parameters and boundaries around such a charge are extremely well established. Just use that.

Bentley Strange

As sad as it seems, I’d be prepared to wager a few quatloos at least that Gleick will not be prosecuted by either State or Federal authorities, and if he is, he will not suffer any penalties of note. He will also be back as an official AGW spokesperson and receiving significant sums of government cash within 2 years, and Heartland will be continue to be reviled as serial tax cheat and as being anti-science.
What is more likely is that Heartland will be hit with malicious prosecutions over their tax status and other regulatory based alleged violations within 3 months in order to prevent them attempting to sue Gleick.
Immoral, sure, but when the “fate of the world is at stake…”

Sharpshooter

“I WANNA SEE HIM DUCKWALKED OFF TO JAIL WHERE HE CAN BE BIG BUBBA’S LOVER FOR A FEW YEARS” paraphrasing a former CA AG (?)

Stephen Richards

Don’t gloat guys. Their tactics at the moment are to shout loud about AGW and ignore everything else, and it’s working. No CG2 enquiries, no sign of any proscecution, no nothing. AGW is a long way from dead.
Churchill said, this is not the end, not even the beginning of the end but (maybe) it (could be) the end of the beginning of the end for AGW. Me, I doubt it.

Denouncing your adversary to a politician is quite despicable. Gleick has already done irreparable damage to himself, and I hope Heartland will sue him in court. This is uncalled for.

Chuckles

What about the fake memo being mailed, and the 1872 California Law about ‘lost’ property that Apple used to much effect a short while ago?
‘One who finds lost property under circumstances which give him knowledge of or means of inquiry as to the true owner, and who appropriates such property to his own use, or to the use of another person not entitled thereto, without first making reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him, is guilty of theft.’
(from Findlaw – http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/PEN/3/1/13/5/s485)

MikeH

I have a feeling that if/when PG gets his day in court, I foresee the same result as the event that occurred in England in the fall of 2008. Greenpeace activists were cleared of charges in court when they vandalized a power plant.
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2008/09/11/british-jury-says-greenpeace-protesters-were-right-to-vandalize-coal-plant/
A quote for the Discover-blog article

“based on the defense attorneys’ argument that the protesters were trying to prevent even worse damage from climate change”.

Now I know this occurred in another country, but I can see the strategy, “he had to act to defend the innocent civilians from the impending global warming catastrophe”. They’ll show that since he truly believes in AGW, then he had to take drastic measures to save lives. Which is legal in the U.S., but it must be imminent danger (they’ll ignore that little clause). They’ll show that he did not attempt to benefit personally from it, monetarily or in position at work. He did it to save people. (queue the Nobel prize nomination)

The Rule of Law as espoused around 880 A.D. in the domboc
“Doom very evenly! Do not doom one doom to the rich; another to the poor! Nor doom one doom to your friend; another to your foe!”

redc1c4

forest for the trees people… you missed the important parts (see the asterisks):
SB 1411 would add upon existing criminal penalties *by providing a civil remedy*, whereby anyone who suffers damage or loss as a victim of false impersonation perpetrated through the Internet or other electronic means *may bring a civil action* against the violator for compensatory damages and injunctive relief.
IANAL, nor do i play one on line, but this is a civil matter, so there is no need to wait around for a governmental agency to act. you just need to get a California lawyer (and we have oodles of them) and let them go at it. since there are damages involved, you might even get this case taken on contingency.

Charles.U.Farley

Breaking news! Mann reads tree rings on faked document; declares authentic.

Ian W

Interesting quote at the bottom of the article here about Heartland calling in the FBI:
http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/washington-secrets/2012/02/fbi-called-over-climate-change-mole/305161
Said Gleick’s lawyer John Keker, “Heartland no doubt will seek to exploit Dr. Gleick’s admitted lapse in judgement in order to further its agenda in the ongoing debate about climate change, but if it wants to pursue this matter legally, it will learn that our legal system provides for a level playing field.” Keker added, “Dr. Gleick looks forward to using discovery to understand more about the veracity of the documents, lay bare the implications of Heartland’s propaganda plans and, in particular, determine once and for all who is truly behind Heartland and why.”
The California Penal Code Section 528.5 is quoted above. So is the Lawyer by working with Dr. Gleick to “…in particular, determine once and for all who is truly behind Heartland and why.” assisting him in creating the very damage the Section 528 is written to prevent? The Heartland Institute would I am sure see this as a reason for increasing the damages claim against Dr. Gleick.

Thomas

From the text of the law: “for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person is guilty of a public offense punishable pursuant to subdivision”
Who is the person being harmed? As written this law only seems to protects people, not organizations like Heartland Institute.