In recent years, many crimes have been perpetrated over the Internet, crimes that have become even easier to get away with because of this technology. Identity theft and other methods of fraud are becoming increasingly popular and so is cyberstalking, making cyberstalking laws necessary.
This obsessive behavior is also called cyber bullying. The means of stalking may be done either electronically or through the use of the Internet. There is only a slight difference in the use of the terms. Cyber bullying, usually akin to bullying that takes place in schools, is usually used when referring to children, while cyber stalking refers to that perpetrated by and against adults.
What is stalking?
It generally involves not only harassing the victim but also using some method of intimidation. While physically following an individual, monitoring and approaching an individual are not crimes in themselves, when they are done, frequently and constantly it becomes a crime. It is a form of mental abuse that takes place overtime and cumulatively, and is recognized as a crime by the law.
As a result of the nature of the crime, it may prove difficult to identify. It is necessary, therefore, to consider the following, the frequency of the activities, based on some vendetta or malice on the part of the offender. It should be reported immediately. Cyberstalking is slightly different from traditional stalking.
Many instances of cyberstalking are done to damage the victim’s reputation. It usually involves sharing false information, for example, on social media sites that have an extremely large audience basis. With the ability for individuals to share the information with friend and associates quite easily, it becomes even more detrimental to a person’s reputation, with the ability for video to go viral, a term normally used when many individuals have seen a video. This means that cyberstalking is more damaging to a person’s reputation than the traditional method of stalking and as such, Internet stalking laws are put in place by many states.
It may include the cyber s and cumulatively talker collecting information on the person through their IP address. Viruses may also be sent to the victim’s network in order to cause some damage to their computer. The perpetrator may falsely accuse the victim of stalking. Cyber stalking may even involve identity fraud, which is also referred to as identity theft. This involves stealing someone’s personal information to use to impersonate them, such as using the person’s name to order products or services that will cause embarrassment to the individual and damage their reputation. Additionally, cyber stalking may go even further, there may be a request sent to meet the person. At which point acts of violence and sexual abuse may be perpetuated against the individual.
The state of California was the first to enact a law against cyberstalking. It is of course listed under the legislation against traditional stalking. Florida was the next state to follow, with its own stalking legislation, enacted in 2003. Most states have laws that speak to the issue in some sense. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Wyoming, New Hampshire, and Missouri are few of the states. In 2001, there was a Texas Stalking by Electronic Communications Act that was put into effect.
Usually a cyberstalking law is enacted as a result of instances when cyberstalking leads to the death of the victim, usually in the form of a suicide. Evidence to this fact includes Megan Meir of Missouri and Tyler Clementi of New Jersey.
Many victims are unsure if they are truly being stalked and are afraid of reporting it only to be ridiculed for blowing a simple situation out of proportion. It is this belief or doubt on which the stalker is depending.
How to mend a reputation damaged by Internet stalking?
Yes, there are laws that give a cyber-stalking victim some redress in the form of punishment to the offender. However, the reputation damaging information floating around the web is what most victims’ also want to address.
The stalker may be anonymous or known to the victim. The information used to stalk and intimidate the individual may even be mug shots or arrest records that were copied from public records. Therefore, it is essential that the person seeking to mend a sordid past, have their record sealed of expunged. To seal a record is to have it hidden from the public. However, to expunge the record is to have it deleted. There are websites that can help individuals with this process. The person may be able to receive a kit for expungement or record sealing. There is no need to higher an expensive lawyer. When a record is sealed or expunged, it is the records kept by law enforcement agencies that will be affected. It means that when applying for a job or for housing the person may legally deny very having a record.
The problem is that even if this information was expunged or sealed through a legal process it may still be available online and the stalker can still use it to damage the individual’s reputation. Therefore, along with expunging or sealing the record, the individual may have to take the necessary steps to attain identity theft protection and to hide the damaging information floating around on the web. There are sites that offer both services at an affordable price. The services involve tracking any negative posts and hiding the content in the deep recesses of the Internet.