Cyberstalking and Cyberharassment Laws

Cyberstalking takes place when the culprit uses information and communication technologies to initiate the violations. These actions may include harassment, annoyance, attacks, or threats against the victims. The culprits can start the attacks by emails, instant messages, calling, texting, or other communication methods. There have been cases where the culprit has installed a GPS tracking device on the victim’s vehicle or personal belongings. Also, there have been cases where the victim’s computer was hacked with malware so the culprit monitored electronic devices.

We have been able to trace “stalkerware” which is a type of spyware on the victim’s electronic devices. The stalkerware was used to collect and transfer information regarding the victim’s activities. These types of spyware can be used to remotely turn on or off cameras and microphones on the victim’s electronic devices.

Cyberharassment takes place when information and communication technologies are used to intentionally humiliate, annoy, attack, threaten, or abuse the victim for no legitimate purpose. There have been cases where the victim was being targeted by a group of known or unknown individuals on the internet. These so-called “internet trolls” work together to engage in highly offensive and inflammatory comments against their victims. Their systematic actions are designed to provoke the victim to the point where they suffer from severe emotional distress. These actions can be initiated on any website but have become prevalent on Reddit.

The cyberharassers have been known to gain unauthorized access to the victim’s social media accounts to take confidential information – e.g., pictures, videos. Then, the culprit can use that personal or confidential information to create a page or profile of the victim and post manipulated pictures or videos on the internet. The victim has legal options such as sending a cease-and-desist letter to the culprit if he or she can be positively identified. If not, then the victim can instigate legal action to obtain the identifiable information from the service provider. Furthermore, “cybersmearing” is an online smear campaign that’s initiated by the culprit to post false information or rumors about the victim. The cybersmearing campaign is designed to damage the victim’s reputation among friends, relatives, or colleagues. The smear campaign can include the posting of fake or artificial pictures or videos. There have been cases where the victim was targeted on an adult dating website and attacked on the internet by posting false pictures and videos. The smear campaign is usually designed to embarrass the victim and to force him or her to initiate legal action.

There are state, federal, or international laws that prohibit personal information from being published without the owner’s consent. For example, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibits the dissemination of a person’s full name and home address on the internet without the owner’s consent. It’s important to note that cyberharassment can be prosecuted in the United Kingdom pursuant to the Protection from Harassment Act of 1997 and Malicious Communications Act of 1988. In Australia, cyberharassment can be criminally prosecuted under the Crimes Act 1958 Section 21A(2), the Crimes Domestic and Personal Violence Act 2007 Section 13, the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 Section 19AA, or the federal Criminal Code 1995 Section 474.17. Finally, with that being said, prosecuting cyberstalkers or cyberharassers is usually a complicated process which should be handled by qualified experts.

Our law firm has managed legal actions related to cyberharassment and cyberstalking in state and federal courts. We are ready to assist our clients in matters related to internet, online harassment, online stalking, and cyberspace laws. Please contact our law firm to speak with an internet attorney at your earliest convenience.