SENATE, No. 1020

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

210th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 21, 2002

 

 

Sponsored by:

Senator BARBARA BUONO

District 18 (Middlesex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

    Authorizes actions for damages for computer impersonation and electronic forgery.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

    As introduced.

 


An Act concerning computer impersonation and electronic forgery and supplementing chapter 38A of Title 2A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

    Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

    1. As used in this act:

    "Computer identity" refers to a person's name, address, social security number, employment, medical history, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, salary, personal identification numbers, access codes, passwords, and any other type of security code.

 

    2. In addition to the actions authorized by P.L.1984, c.182 (C.2A:38A-1 et seq.), a person or enterprise damaged in business or property as a result of any of the following actions may sue the actor therefor in the Superior Court and may recover compensatory and punitive damages and the cost of the suit including a reasonable attorney's fee, costs of investigation and litigation:

    a. The purposeful or knowing, and unauthorized accessing of a computer, computer system, computer network to assume the computer identity of another person in connection with any scheme or artifice to defraud or deceive;

    b. The purposeful or knowing, and unauthorized creation or alteration of electronic mail data contained in any computer, computer network or computer system in such a way that the electronic mail data as created or altered purports to have been created, or altered by another person, or with different provisions, or by authority of one who did not give such authority, or the initiation of the transmission of such electronic mail data to another knowing it to have been thus created or altered; or

    c. The purposeful or knowing, and unauthorized creation or alteration of any document, record, representation, or image data or program whenever contained in any computer, computer network or computer system in such a way that the data or program as created or altered purports to have been created, or altered by another person, or with different provisions, or by authority of one who did not give such authority, or the initiation of the transmission of such electronic data or program knowing it to have been thus created or altered.

 

    3. The value of damage, loss, property or income involved in any lawsuit shall be determined by the trier of fact.

 

    4. In addition to any other action or proceeding authorized by law, the Attorney General, or a person or enterprise alleging injury or loss may bring an action in Superior Court to enjoin actions causing damage as described in this act or to enjoin any acts in furtherance thereof.

 

    5. Actions brought under this act may be filed in the Superior Court of the county in which the computer which is accessed is located, or where the terminal used in the accessing is situated, or where the actual damage occurs.

 

    6. This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

    This bill is intended to protect a person's computer identity from fraudulent computer impersonation.

    A person's computer identity can be displayed in a variety of ways. For example, personal identification codes like access codes and passwords, as well as other personal and financial information can create a person's computer identity. As a result, the average person's computer identity can be easily manipulated and impersonated through the computer or computer system. This type of fraud can severely affect a person's computer identity and personal reputation.

    This bill is also intended to protect a person from electronic mail forgery and document forgery.

    An electronic mail user's identity is available to anyone who has received electronic mail from the user as well as from countless electronic mailing lists compiled by advertisers and marketers.

    The most common use of forged electronic mail is to post false or inflammatory messages which can damage a person's reputation and cause mental and emotional distress.

    This provision is also intended to apply to situations where the actor, without authorization, uses another person's computer to send electronic mail under the owner's identity. The unattended computer provides the actor with the opportunity to forge messages and attribute them to the owner.

    The bill also protects persons against document or record forgery. The use of computers to create false documents or records that are perceived as genuine by others is on the rise as computers become more commonplace. The economic consequences to the public can be quite severe when an actor forges financial instruments such as credit cards, checks, certificates of deposit and other instruments issued by the government. This bill would authorize a person to seek damages against someone who engages in document or record forgery.