Using Someone Else's Facebook Is ID Theft: CA Judge

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on August 05, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

There's no question that Facebook identity theft exists, but according to an appellate court in California, a teen boy committed a crime when he accessed a girl's account and added sexual remarks to her profile.

Despite not having used the password or account to commit fraud or any other crime typically associated with identify theft, the boy, who is known only as Rolando, was sentenced to 90 days to a year in a juvenile facility, which is to be followed by probation.

The juvenile court judge concluded that Rolando received an unsolicited text message containing the victim's e-mail password, reports Ars Technica. He used that password to gain access to her Facebook account on which he added sexual comments to her profile and made remarks on the walls of friends.

This caused the girl to be embarrassed and suffer from harassment at school.

Rolando was prosecuted under California's identify theft statute which makes it illegal to "willfully obtain[] personal identifying information...and use[] that information for any unlawful purpose."

Rolando's main contention was that he did not "willfully obtain" the e-mail password, which is listed as "personal identifying information" in the statute.

However, the appellate court determined that retaining the text message and then using its contents to obtain the victim's Facebook password was enough to satisfy this criteria.

His "unlawful purpose" was libeling his victim.

While juvenile defendants are often charged with hacking crimes and harassment for illegally accessing Facebook accounts, this is first time this blogger has seen it prosecuted as Facebook identity theft, making this case particularly unique and definitely one to watch on further appeal.

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