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Cyber Stalking

Although there is no universally accepted definition of cyber stalking, the term is used in this report to refer to the use of the Internet, e-mail, or other electronic communications devices to stalk another person. Stalking generally involves harassing or threatening behaviour that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property. 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 only that the alleged stalker’s course of conduct constitute an implied threat.(1) While some conduct involving annoying or menacing behaviour might fall short of illegal stalking, such behaviour may be a prelude to stalking and violence and should be treated seriously.

Both kind of Stalkers Online & Offline – have desire to control the victims life. Majority of the stalkers are the dejected lovers or ex-lovers, who then want to harass the victim because they failed to satisfy their secret desires. Most of the stalkers are men and victim female.

How do they Operate
  • They collect all personal information about the victim such as name, family background, Telephone Numbers of residence and work place, daily routine of the victim, address of residence and place of work, date of birth etc. If the stalker is one of the acquaintances of the victim he can easily get this information. If stalker is a stranger to victim, he collects the information from the internet resources such as various profiles, the victim may have filled in while opening the chat or e-mail account or while signing an account with some website.
  • The stalker may post this information on any website related to sex-services or dating services, posing as if the victim is posting this information and invite the people to call the victim on her telephone numbers to have sexual services. Stalker even uses very filthy and obscene language to invite the interested persons.
  • People of all kind from nook and corner of the World, who come across this information, start calling the victim at her residence and/or work place, asking for sexual services or relationships.
  • Some stalkers subscribe the e-mail account of the victim to innumerable pornographic and sex sites, because of which victim starts receiving such kind of unsolicited e-mails.
  • Some stalkers keep on sending repeated e-mails asking for various kinds of favors or threaten the victim.
  • In online stalking the stalker can make third party to harass the victim.
  • Follow their victim from board to board. They “hangout” on the same BB’s as their victim, many times posting notes to the victim, making sure the victim is aware that he/she is being followed. Many times they will “flame” their victim (becoming argumentative, insulting) to get their attention.
  • Stalkers will almost always make contact with their victims through email. The letters may be loving, threatening, or sexually explicit. He will many times use multiple names when contacting the victim.
  • Contact victim via telephone. If the stalker is able to access the victims telephon, he will many times make calls to the victim to threaten, harass, or intimidate them. Track the victim to his/her home.
Nature and Extent of Cyberstalking

An existing problem aggravated by new technology Although online harassment and threats can take many forms, cyber stalking shares important characteristics with offline stalking. Many stalkers – online or off – are motivated by a desire to exert control over their victims and engage in similar types of behaviour to accomplish this end. As with offline stalking, the available evidence (which is largely anecdotal) suggests that the majority of cyber stalkers are men and the majority of their victims are women, although there have been reported cases of women cyber stalking men and of same-sex cyber stalking. In many cases, the cyber stalker and the victim had a prior relationship, and the cyber stalking begins when the victim attempts to break off the relationship. However, there also have been many instances of cyber stalking by strangers. Given the enormous amount of personal information available through the Internet, a cyber stalker can easily locate private information about a potential victim with a few mouse clicks or key strokes.

The fact that cyber stalking does not involve physical contact may create the misperception that it is more benign than physical stalking. This is not necessarily true. As the Internet becomes an ever more integral part of our personal and professional lives, stalkers can take advantage of the ease of communications as well as increased access to personal information. In addition, the ease of use and non-confrontational, impersonal, and sometimes anonymous nature of Internet communications may remove disincentives to cyber stalking. Put another way, whereas a potential stalker may be unwilling or unable to confront a victim in person or on the telephone, he or she may have little hesitation sending harassing or threatening electronic communications to a victim. Finally, as with physical stalking, online harassment and threats may be a prelude to more serious behaviour, including physical violence.

Prevention Tips
  • Do not share personal information in public spaces anywhere online, nor give it to strangers, including in e-mail or chat rooms. Do not use your real name or nickname as your screen name or user ID. Pick a name that is gender- and age-neutral. And do not post personal information as part of any user profiles.
  • Be extremely cautious about meeting online acquaintances in person. If you choose to meet, do so in a public place and take along a friend.
  • Make sure that your ISP and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) network have an acceptable use policy that prohibits cyber stalking. And if your network fails to respond to your complaints, consider switching to a provider that is more responsive to user complaints.
  • If a situation online becomes hostile, log off or surf elsewhere. If a situation places you in fear, contact a local law enforcement agency.
What To Do If You Are Being Cyber stalked?
  • If you are receiving unwanted contact, make clear to that person that you would like him or her not to contact you again.
  • Save all communications for evidence. Do not edit or alter them in any way. Also, keep a record of your contacts with Internet system administrators or law enforcement officials.
  • You may want to consider blocking or filtering messages from the harasser. Many e-mail programs such as Eudora and Microsoft Outlook have a filter feature, and software can be easily obtained that will automatically delete e-mails from a particular e-mail address or that contain offensive words. Chat room contact can be blocked as well. Although formats differ, a common chat room command to block someone would be to type: /ignore (without the brackets). However, in some circumstances (such as threats of violence), it may be more appropriate to save the information and contact law enforcement authorities.
  • If harassment continues after you have asked the person to stop, contact the harasser's Internet Service Provider (ISP). Most ISP's have clear policies prohibiting the use of their services to abuse another person. Often, an ISP can try to stop the conduct by direct contact with the stalker or by closing their account. If you receive abusive e-mails, identify the domain (after the "@" sign) and contact that ISP. Most ISP's have an e-mail address such as abuse@(domain name) or postmaster@(domain name) that can be used for complaints. If the ISP has a website, visit it for information on how to file a complaint.