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Encyclopedia > Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk someone. Stalking means criminally following or similarly harassing a person over an extended period. ...

It has been defined as the use of information and communications technology, particularly the Internet, by an individual or group of individuals, to harass another individual, group of individuals, or organization. The behavior includes false accusations, monitoring, the transmission of threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sexual purposes, and gathering information for harassment purposes. The harassment must be such that a reasonable person, in possession of the same information, would regard it as sufficient to cause another reasonable person distress.[1] The man on the Clapham omnibus is a descriptive formulation of a reasonably educated and intelligent but non-specialist person — a reasonable man; a hypothetical person against whom a defendants conduct might be judged in an English law civil action for negligence. ...



Further information: Stalking

Stalking is a continuous process, consisting of a series of actions, each of which may be entirely legal in itself. Lambèr Royakkers writes that: Stalking means criminally following or similarly harassing a person over an extended period. ...

"Stalking is a form of mental assault, in which the perpetrator repeatedly, unwantedly, and disruptively breaks into the life-world of the victim, with whom he has no relationship (or no longer has), with motives that are directly or indirectly traceable to the affective sphere. Moreover, the separated acts that make up the intrusion cannot by themselves cause the mental abuse, but do taken together (cumulative effect)."[2]

CyberAngels has written about how to identify cyberstalking: The Guardian Angels are an anti-crime organization that operate in the United States, Europe, Brazil, and Japan. ...

When identifying cyberstalking "in the field," and particularly when considering whether to report it to any kind of legal authority, the following features or combination of features can be considered to characterize a true stalking situation: malice, premeditation, repetition, distress, obsession, vendetta, no legitimate purpose, personally directed, disregarded warnings to stop, harassment, and threats.[3] The term Malice has several meanings: Malice (legal term), a legal term describing the intent to harm Malice (movie), a 1993 movie starring Nicole Kidman, Alec Baldwin and Bill Pullman Malice (noun), a way to describe the feeling of hatred or disrespect. ... Look up Distress in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up obsession in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A feud is a long-running argument or fight between parties—often groups of people, especially families or clans. ... Harassment refers to a wide spectrum of offensive behavior. ... A threat is an unwanted (deliberate or accidental) event that may result in harm to an asset. ...

A number of key factors have been identified:

  • False accusations. Many cyberstalkers try to damage the reputation of their victim and turn other people against them. They post false information about them on websites. They may set up their own websites, blogs or user pages for this purpose. They post allegations about the victim to newsgroups, chat rooms or other sites that allow public contributions, such as Wikipedia or Amazon.com.[4]
  • Attempts to gather information about the victim. Cyberstalkers may approach their victim's friends, family and work colleagues to obtain personal information. They may advertise for information on the Internet, or hire a private detective. They often will monitor the victim's online activities and attempt to trace their IP address in an effort to gather more information about their victims. [5]
  • Encouraging others to harass the victim. Many cyberstalkers try to involve third parties in the harassment. They may claim the victim has harmed the stalker or his family in some way, or may post the victim's name and telephone number in order to encourage others to join the pursuit.
  • False victimization. The cyberstalker will claim that the victim is harassing him. Bocij writes that this phenomenon has been noted in a number of well-known cases.
  • Attacks on data and equipment. They may try to damage the victim's computer by sending viruses.
  • Ordering goods and services. They order items or subscribe to magazines in the victim's name. These often involve subscriptions to pornography or ordering sex toys then having them delivered to the victim's workplace.
  • Arranging to meet. Young people face a particularly high risk of having cyberstalkers try to set up meetings between them.[6]


Cyberstalkers meet or target their victims by using search engines, online forums, bulletin and discussion boards, chat rooms, Wikipedia, and more recently, through online communities such as MySpace, Facebook, Friendster and Indymedia, a media outlet known for self-publishing. They may engage in live chat harassment or flaming or they may send electronic viruses and unsolicited e-mails. [7] Victims of cyberstalkers may not even know that they are being stalked. Cyberstalkers may research individuals to feed their obsessions and curiosity. Conversely, the acts of cyberstalkers may become more intense, such as repeatedly instant messaging their targets. [8] A search engine is an information retrieval system designed to help find information stored on a computer system. ... A chat room or chatroom is a term used primarily by mass media to describe any form of synchronous conferencing, occasionally even asynchronous conferencing. ... MySpace is a social networking website offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music, and videos. ... Facebook is a social networking website that was launched on February 4, 2004. ... Friendster is an Internet social network service. ... The Independent Media Center, also called Indymedia or the IMC, is a loose network of amateur or alternative media organizations and journalists who organize into decentralized collectives, normally around geographic locations. ... Flaming is the hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users. ...

More commonly they will post defamatory or derogatory statements about their stalking target on web pages, message boards and in guest books designed to get a reaction or response from their victim, thereby initiating contact. [7] In some cases, they have been known to create fake blogs in the name of the victim containing defamatory or pornographic content.

When prosecuted, many stalkers have unsuccessfully attempted to justify their behavior based on their use of public forums, as opposed to direct contact. Once they get a reaction from the victim, they will typically attempt to track or follow the victim's internet activity. Classic cyberstalking behavior includes the tracing of the victim's IP address in an attempt to verify their home or place of employment. [7] An IP address (Internet Protocol address) is a unique address that certain electronic devices currently use in order to identify and communicate with each other on a computer network utilizing the Internet Protocol standard (IP)—in simpler terms, a computer address. ...

Some cyberstalking situations do evolve into physical stalking, and a victim may experience abusive and excessive phone calls, vandalism, threatening or obscene mail, trespassing, and physical assault.[7] Moreover, many physical stalkers will use cyberstalking as another method of harassing their victims.[9] [10]

A 2007 study, led by Paige Padgett from the University of Texas Health Science Center, found that there was a false degree of safety assumed by women looking for love online.[11][12] The University of Texas System comprises fifteen educational institutions in Texas, of which nine are general academic universities, and six are health institutions. ...

Cyberstalking legislation

In the United States

The current US Federal Anti-Cyber-Stalking law is found at 47 USC sec. 223.

The first U.S. cyberstalking law went into effect in 1999 in California. Other states include prohibition against cyberstalking in their harassment or stalking legislation. In Florida, HB 479 was introduced in 2003 to ban cyberstalking. This was signed into law on October 2003. [13] This article is about the U.S. state. ... This article is about the U.S. State of Florida. ...

Some states in the U.S. have begun to address the issue of cyberstalking:

  • Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, and New York have included prohibitions against harassing electronic, computer or e-mail communications in their harassment legislation.
  • Alaska, Florida, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and California, have incorporated electronically communicated statements as conduct constituting stalking in their anti-stalking laws.
  • Texas enacted the Stalking by Electronic Communications Act, 2001.
  • A few states have both stalking and harassment statutes that criminalize threatening and unwanted electronic communications.
  • Other states have laws other than harassment or anti-stalking statutes that prohibit misuse of computer communications and e-mail, while others have passed laws containing broad language that can be interpreted to include cyberstalking behaviors

Cyberstalking has also been addressed in recent U.S. federal law. For example, the Violence Against Women Act, passed in 2000, made cyberstalking a part of the federal interstate stalking statute. Still, there remains a lack of legislation at the federal level to specifically address cyberstalking, leaving the majority of legislative prohibitions against cyberstalking at the state level.[7] This article is about the U.S. State. ... Official language(s) English Spoken language(s) English 74. ... Official language(s) none (de facto English) Capital Hartford Largest city Bridgeport[2] Largest metro area Hartford Metro Area[3] Area  Ranked 48th in the US  - Total 5,543[4] sq mi (14,356 km²)  - Width 70 miles (113 km)  - Length 110 miles (177 km)  - % water 12. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... Official language(s) English[1] Capital Springfield Largest city Chicago Largest metro area Chicago Metropolitan Area Area  Ranked 25th  - Total 57,918 sq mi (140,998 km²)  - Width 210 miles (340 km)  - Length 390 miles (629 km)  - % water 4. ... For other uses, see New Hampshire (disambiguation). ... This article is about the state. ... For other uses, see Alaska (disambiguation). ... This article is about the U.S. State of Florida. ... For other uses, see Oklahoma (disambiguation). ... Official language(s) English Capital Cheyenne Largest city Cheyenne Area  Ranked 10th  - Total 97,818 sq mi (253,348 km²)  - Width 280 miles (450 km)  - Length 360 miles (580 km)  - % water 0. ... This article is about the U.S. state. ... For other uses, see Texas (disambiguation). ...

Most stalking laws require that the perpetrator make a credible threat of violence against the victim; others include threats against the victim's immediate family; and still others require the alleged stalker's course of conduct constitute an implied threat. While some conduct involving annoying or menacing behavior might fall short of illegal stalking, such behavior may be a prelude to stalking and violence and should be treated seriously.[14]

Online identity stealth blurs the line on infringement of the rights of would-be victims to identify their perpetrators. There is a debate on how internet use can be traced without infringing on protected civil liberties.

In other countries

Other countries have begun to include online abuse in their anti-stalking legislation. In Australia, the Stalking Amendment Act (1999) includes the use of any form of technology to harass a target as forms of "criminal stalking." In the United Kingdom, the Malicious Communications Act (1998) classified cyberstalking as a criminal offense.[15]

Cyberstalking law enforcement

Law enforcement has often not caught up with the times, and officials are in many cases simply telling the victims to avoid the websites where they are being harassed or having their privacy violated. Some assistance can be found by contacting the web host companies (if the material is on a website) or the ISP of the abuser. Many victims note that persistence is a key. At times the seriousness of the impact of this type of violation is not comprehended and the third party facilitators of cyberstalkers tell the victim to work it out with their harasser.[citation needed] “ISP” redirects here. ...

See also

It has been suggested that Virtual world be merged into this article or section. ... A new phenomena that involves bullying through means of communication devices, with the internet in particular. ... Cyber-terrorism is terrorism that uses cracking over computer networks and Internet-based attacks in the service of terrorism. ... Harassment by computer is a crime in several U.S. states. ... A hate group is an organized group or movement that advocates hate, hostility, or violence towards members of a race, ethnicity, religion, gender or other designated sector of society, or that supports and publishes assertions and argumentation characteristic of hate groups without necessarily explicitly advocating such hate or violence that... An online predator is an Internet user who exploits vulnerable people, usually for sexual or financial purposes. ... A Net dating service is an example of a dating system. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... In computing and telecommunication networks (including of course the Internet) terms of service or ToS is an agreement under which a service provider agrees to provide services to the users of the service. ... A search engine is an information retrieval system designed to help find information stored on a computer system. ...


  1. ^ Bocij, Paul. Cyberstalking: Harassment in the Internet Age and How to Protect Your Family. Praeger, 2004, p. 14.
  2. ^ Royakkers 2000:7, cited in CyberStalking: menaced on the internet
  3. ^ Bocij, Paul. Cyberstalking: Harassment in the Internet Age and How to Protect Your Family. Praeger, 2004, pp. 9-10.
  4. ^ Fighting Cyberstalking
  5. ^ An exploration of predatory behavior in cyberspace: Towards a typology of cyberstalkers by Leroy McFarlane and Paul Bocij
  6. ^ Bocij, Paul. Cyberstalking: Harassment in the Internet Age and How to Protect Your Family. Praeger, 2004, pp. 12-13.
  7. ^ a b c d e Cyberstalking
  8. ^ Compulsions in Depression: Stalking by Text Message - HOWES 163 (9): 1642 - Am J Psychiatry
  9. ^ Types of Stalkers and Stalking Patterns
  10. ^ Cyber-Stalking: Obsessional Pursuit and the Digital Criminal
  11. ^ Look Who’s Googling: New acquaintances and secret admirers may already know all about you
  12. ^ "Personal Safety and Sexual Safety for Women Using Online Personal Ads", Sexuality Research and Social Policy: Journal of NSRC, June 2007, Vol. 4, No. 2, Pages 27-37
  13. ^ Florida Statute 784.048. Florida Computer Crime Center.
  14. ^ Cyberstalking: A New Challenge for Law Enforcement and Industry
  15. ^ Stalking/UK

Further reading

  • Bocij, Paul. Cyberstalking : Harassment in the Internet Age and How to Protect Your Family. Praeger Publishers, 2004. (ISBN 0-275-98118-5)
  • Meloy, J. The Psychology of Stalking. Reid. Academic Press, 2000. (ISBN 0-12-490561-7)
  • Mullen, Paul E.; Pathé, Michele; Purcell, Rosemary. Stalkers and Their Victims. Cambridge University Press, 2000. (ISBN 0-521-66950-2)
  • Hitchcock, J.A., Net Crimes & Misdemeanors: Outmaneuvering the Spammers, Swindlers, and Stalkers Who Are Targeting You Online CyberAge Books, 2006. (ISBN 0-910-96572-2)
  • PDF article on Cyberstalking in the United Kingdom
  • Crime Library: Cyberstalking
  • Cyberstalking – Is it Covered by Current Anti-Stalking Laws? by Craig Lee and Patrick Lynch

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Cyberstalking - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (423 words)
Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk someone which may be a computer crime or harassment.
Cyberstalking is becoming a common tactic in racism, and other expressions of bigotry and hate.
Some suggest that cyberstalking is also related to spamming; free e-mail servers is a likely culprit to which cyberstalkers would have more than one e-mail address.
CyberStalking (2618 words)
As with offline stalking, the available evidence (which is largely anecdotal) suggests that the majority of cyberstalkers are men and the majority of their victims are women, although there have been reported cases of women cyberstalking men and of same-sex cyberstalking.
Each message -- whether from the actual cyberstalker or others -- will have the intended effect on the victim, but the cyberstalker's effort is minimal and the lack of direct contact between the cyberstalker and the victim can make it difficult for law enforcement to identify, locate, and arrest the offender.
Certain forms of cyberstalking also may be prosecuted under 47 U.S.C. One provision of this statute makes it a federal crime, punishable by up to two years in prison, to use a telephone or telecommunications device to annoy, abuse, harass, or threaten any person at the called number.
  More results at FactBites »



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