The accidental identity thief

When is identity theft not identity theft? According to the supreme court it’s when there is no intent to steal a specific person’s identity. See this Wired article:

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday the government has been overstepping the boundaries of identity theft legislation when targeting immigrants who use phony citizenship documents to acquire jobs.

The 2004 legislation, which typically carries a two-year maximum term, has also been threatened against illegal immigrants in exchange for them agreeing to be deported, like the 400 illegal immigrants working under false pretenses at an Iowa meatpacking plant last year.

The justices said that the government, in order to prove such charges, must demonstrate that a defendant “knowingly” hijacked the identity of somebody else. In the case before the justices, an Illinois illegal immigrant steelworker was charged under the statute after submitting a fake Social Security number that, without the worker’s knowledge, happened to match a real number.


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