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Pennsylvania Mulls Criminalizing Fake Online Profiles

Debate over free speech

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Offending someone online isn't a crime, but proposed legislation in Pennsylvania would penalize people who take it too far.

Next week, House Judiciary Committee representatives are scheduled to discuss House Bill 2249, which makes it a misdemeanor to impersonate someone online. But the bill has stirred up free speech debates for its potential chilling effect on online communication — or on pranksters.

Now, the bill's sponsor says specific changes will ensure people who are joking with friends, or exercising First Amendment rights, won't be prosecuted.