Online Harassment and Online Stalking | Center for the exchange of data protection rights (2023)

Published: June 1, 1994|Revidirani datum: 25. listopada 2018

Please note that this guide is for informational purposes only only. nasI cannot advise victims of stalking. If you need advice or help, visit us

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  1. What is cyber harassment?
  2. Who is affected?
  3. cyberstalking
  4. California law
  5. federal law
  6. resource

1. What is cyberbullying?

Online harassment can include threatening or harassing emails, instant messages, or online postings. It targets specific individuals by contacting them directly or providing their personal information in order to cause them pain, fear or anger.

Cyberstalking is a form of online harassment that uses electronic means to track the victim. This is usually a pattern of threatening or malicious behavior. All states have laws against stalking, but legal definitions vary. Some state laws require perpetrators to make credible threats of violence to victims. Others require only that the stalking practices constitute an implied threat.

2. Who is affected?

(Video) Five Charged Variously with Stalking, Harassing and Spying on U.S. Residents on Behalf of the PRC

In July 2017, the Pew Research Center's American Trends Panel conducted a national surveyquestionnaireInternet users' experiences of online harassment. The survey found that 41 percent of Americans have personally been victims of online harassment, and 66 percent have witnessed harassment by others. Nearly one in five Americans (18%) have experienced particularly severe online harassment, such as physical threats, prolonged harassment, sexual harassment, or stalking.

3. Web monitoring

Stalkers can use the anonymity of the Internet to commit crimes. Many victims of cyberstalking do not know the identity of the stalker. This can make fears more obvious and reduce the likelihood of prosecution.

Some examples of web tracking are:

  • Sending manipulative, threatening, abusive or harassing emails from different email accounts.
  • Hack the victim's online accounts (such as bank or email) and change the victim's settings and passwords.
  • Creating fake online accounts on social media and dating sites, impersonating the victim or attempting to contact the victim using a false identity.
  • Post the victim's personal information on Internet message boards and discussion groups, such as B. Home address, phone number, or Social Security number. The posts can also be offensive or controversial — and result in victims receiving a flood of emails, phone calls or visits from people who read the post online.
  • Subscribe to numerous online mailing lists and services using the victim's name and email address.

Cyberstalking is difficult to fight because the stalker can be out of state or within three cabins of the victim. Online anonymity can make it difficult to verify the stalker's identity, gather the evidence needed to make an arrest, and track the online stalker to his or her physical location.

Social media poses a safety risk for victims of stalking. Social media profiles can contain information such as your email address, phone number, general (or even specific) address information, birthdays, official names, names of family members, and even information such as the latest news about your location. If the victim has a public profile, the stalker can easily access all the information posted on the social network account. Even with strict privacy settings or a private profile, stalkers can still gain access to your account. Among other things, this can be achieved by:

  • hack your account
  • Create fake profiles and send "friend requests" or "follow requests". It may even look like the request is coming from a known friend or family member. Make sure your friends and family have an account before accepting requests.
  • Access the accounts of your existing contacts (such as Facebook friends or Twitter followers).

Social media is often linked to another form of harassment known as "revenge pornography," or the posting of offensive photos or videos online without the permission of others. There are laws that create criminal and civil liability for revenge pornography, but victims may first want to take steps to remove the material as quickly as possible. Many social media sites have policies for reporting and removing such material from their sites.

(Video) Online Sexual Abuse Can Happen

If you have become a victim of stalking, consider suspending your social media account until the stalking issue is resolved. If you decide to continue using social media, here are some tips to help you stay safe:

  • Use your privacy settings. Some social networking sites may allow you to keep your personal information completely private by checking a box. With other providers such as Facebook, navigating privacy settings can be complicated.
  • Take advantage of additional security settings. One of the best examples is two-factor authentication. Enabling this feature requires you to provide your account with information you know (such as a password) and information you have (such as a specific device). So if someone gets hold of your password, they won't be able to log into your account without a specific code that the service sends to your device. For a list of sites that offer two-factor authentication, see
  • bigSimulate the amount of personal information you post on your accountT.For example, you may not want to include contact information, your date of birth, the city you were born in, or the names of family members.
  • Do not accept "friend requests" (or "follow requests") from strangers.If you know the person who sent the request, contact them offline to confirm that they sent the request.
  • warn your friends and acquaintancesDo not post any personal information about yourself, especially contact and location information.
  • avoid online surveys or quizzes,Especially those asking for personal information.
  • Do not post photos of homes that could indicate their location.For example, don't post photos with house numbers or landmarks in the background.
  • Be careful when joining an online organization, groups or "fan pages". Never openly register for events displayed online.
  • Be careful when connecting your phone to social media accounts.If you choose to link your phone to your online accounts, be careful when giving real-time updates about your location or activity.
  • Avoid posting information about your current or future location.Or provide information that a stalker can later use to determine your location, such as restaurant reviews near your home.
  • Always use strong, uniquepasswordSuitable for any social networking site.

4. California Law

California was the first state to pass anti-stalking laws in 1990, but all 50 states now have anti-stalking laws.

California has criminal and civil laws against stalking and online harassment. According to the criminal law, a stalker is someone who intentionally, maliciously and repeatedly stalks or harasses another (victim) and makes credible threats with the intention of causing fear for the victim's or his immediate family's safety. The victim does not have to prove that the stalker intended to make the threat. (California Penal Code 646.9)

The California Criminal Online Harassment Act prohibits the use of an electronic communication device to repeatedly contact another person with the intent to harass or harass that person, or to make a single harassing contact if it contains obscene or threatening language. (California Penal Code 653m.) In addition, it is illegal to make credible threats through electronic communication devices, including but not limited to telephones, cell phones, smart phones, tablets and computers. (California Penal Code Section 442.)

Another law criminalizes the use of electronic communication devices to communicate personal information about others without their consent and with the intent to harass or intimidate. (California Penal Code 653.2)

The penalty for stalking is up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If the stalker pursues the same person in violation of a court order, the penalties are more severe, from two to four years in prison. People convicted of stalking also face stiffer penalties if they continue to stalk the victim. The court can issue an injunction against stalking. (California Family Code 6320)

(Video) Internet Lawyer Discusses Psychological Trauma Of Cyber Harassment

Victims, family members, or witnesses may request that the California Department of Corrections, county sheriff, or local jail director notify them by phone or mail 15 days before a convicted stalker is released from jail or prison. Victims, family members or Witnesses must provide their current mailing address and telephone number when these services are provided. Information about reported individuals must be kept confidential and not disclosed to convicted stalkers. (California Penal Code, § 646.92) The court may order the convicted person to report to the local police within 14 days of moving to the city and/or county. (California Penal Code 646.9)

Victims of stalking can file a civil lawsuit against the stalker for damages. (See Civil Code section 1708.7 for elements and remedies for stalking violations.)

When stalking occurs in the workplace, the employer can file for a restraining order or restraining order on behalf of the employee who is the victim of stalking. (California Code of Civil Procedure 527.8)

Victims can also ask the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to stop disclosing vehicle registration and driver's license information to anyone except court and law enforcement officers, other government agencies, or certain financial institutions, insurance companies, and attorneys. (California Vehicle Code 1808.21, 1808.22) Victims may also request that voter registration information, name and address changes, and other personally identifiable information remain confidential. Knowingly publicizing the personal data of a victim of stalking or domestic violence with the intention of harming or fearing harm is prohibited. (California Government Codes 6205-6210)

Many other states also have secrecy programs that allow victims to withhold personal information.

California also has laws against "revenge pornography," or posting explicit photos online without the permission of others. Taking explicit photos or videos of others and distributing them in a way that is intended to cause emotional pain is a criminal offence. This applies both to the dissemination of photographs of the victim taken by the perpetrator and to the dissemination of photographs taken by the victim. If the victim is a minor or the perpetrator has been punished, the punishment is more severe. (Cal. Penal Code 647(j), 647(k)). For laws against revenge porn in other states, see

5. Federal law

Federal laws dealing with stalking and harassment:

(Video) How to Protect Yourself from Online Abuse and Surveillance

Unauthorized Information: The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act creates civil and criminal liability for individuals who gain unauthorized information from networked computers. Additional civil and criminal remedies exist for those who fraudulently gain access to a computer. This law could be useful in situations where victims are secretly recorded on their own computers or where perpetrators obtain sexual photos or videos through unauthorized access to victims' computers. (8 USC 1030)

Copyright Infringement: Victims who post intimate photos or videos online without their consent (revenge pornography) can file a civil lawsuit for copyright infringement if the victim is the person who originally took the image and therefore owns the copyright. (17 USC 50)

Wiretapping: If the perpetrator originally obtained published material without consent by intercepting electronic communications, they may be subject to criminal and civil liability. (18 U.S.C. 2511)

Interstate Threats and Extortion: People who post or threaten to post private photos or videos of others with the intent of forcing their victims to do something they would not otherwise do can be charged with extortion if the perpetrator travels interstate with the victim Commercial channels of communication (telephone, computer, internet, etc.) (18 U.S.C. 875)

  • Interstate Stalking: Section 2261A(1) makes it a federal crime to stalk another person across state, tribal, or international lines with the intent to "kill, injure, harass, or be surveilled, with intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate" anyone else . "In addition, the travel must cause a reasonable fear of death, serious bodily injury, or serious emotional distress in the victim or his family, spouse, or domestic partner. Section 2261A(2) provides that, whether by mail, email, or the Internet, federal is the crime of stalking, tribal or international. The stalker must fear killing, harming, harassing, intimidating or causing serious emotional distress or causing death or serious bodily injury to the victim or a family member, spouse or intimate partner of the victim.(18 Section 2261A of the United States Code)
  • Interstate domestic violence: Pursuant to section 2261(a)(1), travel across state, tribal, or international borders with the intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate a spouse or intimate partner and commit or attempt to commit a federal crime against the spouse or partner commits a violent crime . 2261(a)(2) makes it a federal crime to induce a spouse or intimate partner to cross state, tribal, or international lines and commit a criminal or violent act against the spouse by force, coercion, coercion, or fraud. (18 U.S.C. Section 2261)
  • Interstate Violation of a Protective Order: Pursuant to section 2262(a)(1), it is a federal offense to travel across state, tribal, or international borders for the purpose of violating a protective order and subsequently participate in the violation of this order.
  • Interstate Telephone Harassment: The Act makes it a federal crime to use a telephone, the Internet, or any other telecommunications device to harass, abuse, harass, or threaten another person at a called number. (47 U.S.C. section 223(a)(1)(C))
  • Caller ID spoofing: Callers can disguise their identity by spoofing the phone number displayed on the recipient's caller ID. This is known as "false caller ID processing" and is illegal under the Caller ID Truth Act, which prohibits submitting false or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, harm, or improperly obtain something of value. Violators will be fined up to $10,000 per violation. If you suspect that your caller ID has been tampered with, you can file a complaint with the FCC.
  • Caller ID Blocking: Federal law protects callers' privacy by requiring phone companies to allow blocking of their own phone numbers. For all international calls, callers must have the option to reveal or block their number. To block all calls to your number, dial *67 before the call. To unlock your number, dial *82.

6. Resources

National Center for Victims of Crime

Office of Victims of Crime (US Department of Justice)

  • OVC has an online offerCrime Victim Services Directory.The directory allows you to search by state or country for services that match a particular form of victimization.

National domestic violence hotline

(Video) Internet for All – Silenced and Harassed No More!

  • NDVH helps victims find safe accommodation.
    (800) 799-SAFE

National Network for Stopping Domestic Violence

Web Trace Resources:

Other pages:


Online Harassment and Online Stalking | Center for the exchange of data protection rights? ›

Examples of cyberstalking include: Sending unwanted, frightening, or obscene emails, or text messages. Harassing or threatening you on social media. Tracking your computer and internet use. Using technology such as GPS to track where you are.

What is cyberstalking and harassment? ›

Examples of cyberstalking include: Sending unwanted, frightening, or obscene emails, or text messages. Harassing or threatening you on social media. Tracking your computer and internet use. Using technology such as GPS to track where you are.

What is the difference between cyberstalking and online harassment? ›

Cyberharassment is threatening behaviour or unwanted advances directed at another using the Internet and other forms of computer communications; whereas cyberstalking involves the repeated and deliberate use of the Internet and electronic communication tools to frighten, intimidate or harass someone.

What is the legal definition of cyberstalking? ›

: the use of electronic communication to harass or threaten someone with physical harm.

Can the police do anything about someone cyberstalking you? ›

In some cases, police departments treat cases of cyber harassment in the same fashion as offline harassment cases, by taking a report and having detectives followup on it.

What is evidence of cyberstalking? ›

Some common characteristics of Cyberstalking behavior are tracking locations, breaching data privacy, monitoring online and real-world activities, obsessively tracking the victims' whereabouts, intimidating victims, etc. Social media stalking may include sending threatening private messages or faking photos.

What are the four categories of stalking? ›

Questions about stalking behaviors can be grouped into the four SLII categories: Surveillance, Life invasion, Intimidation, and Interference through sabotage or attack (SLII).

How is cyberstalking prosecuted? ›

Depending on the details, cyberstalking can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony case. Felony charges are slightly more severe. Individuals facing felony cyberstalking charges may see up to 3 years in state prison if convicted.

What are the behaviors of cyberstalking? ›

Here are some common cyberstalking behaviors:
  • Blackmailing a victim using personal information or photos.
  • Making false accusations about a victim online.
  • Publicly posting derogatory statements about a victim.
  • Posing as a victim online to cause harm to their life or career.
May 4, 2022

What kind of crime is cyber stalking? ›

Cyberstalking is a criminal offense under American anti-stalking, slander, and harassment laws. A conviction can result in a restraining order, probation, or criminal penalties against the assailant, including jail. Cyberstalking specifically has been addressed in recent U.S. federal law.

Who are the most common victims of cyberstalking? ›

Who are the victims of cyberstalking? Although both males and females can be victims of cyberstalking, females between the ages of 18-30 are most likely to become victims.

What are the different types of cyber stalking? ›

Examples of Cyberstalking

Making rude, offensive, or suggestive online comments. Joining the same groups and forums to follow the target online. Sending the target threatening, controlling, or lewd messages or emails. Making a fake social media profile to follow the victim.

How do I report Internet stalking to the FBI? ›

If you're a victim of online crime, don't give up. Visit IC3, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. Your tips help the FBI track down cyber criminals around the world. Report your crime to today.

What are the federal laws against cyberstalking? ›

Federal law provides some tools to combat cyberstalking. Under 18 U.S.C. 875(c), it is a federal crime, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, to transmit any communication in interstate or foreign commerce containing a threat to injure the person of another.

How do I report cyberstalking to the FBI? ›

Contact Your Local FBI Field Office

If you or your organization is the victim of a network intrusion, data breach, or ransomware attack, contact your nearest FBI field office or report it at

Is cyberstalking hard to prove? ›

Proving that someone is stalking you will be impossible without any evidence. Document and preserve all communications, posts, photos, and other media the cyberstalker posted or sent you. While you might want to delete threatening messages, doing so can make it challenging to present your case in court.

How do you report Internet harassment? ›

You can report these crimes to your local FBI field office and/or the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). The IC3 can review a complaint and refer it to the appropriate law enforcement agency. However, one of the main purposes for the IC3 is for federal law enforcers to monitor trends and repeat offenders.

How serious is cyberstalking? ›

Like physical stalking, cyberstalking can lead to physical violence. Victims suffer psychological trauma, often resulting in anxiety, depression, insomnia and even loss of employment.

What will you do if someone is cyberstalking you? ›

Cyberstalking - Do this first!

Do not respond to their communications, never agree to meet and do not confront them about the stalking. Report it to the police - The police take stalking reports seriously and they have lots of experience investigating them. Report it early to the police directly using 101.

What are some specific actions to take if you are a victim of cyberstalking? ›

If you suspect you are a victim of stalking, we urge you to read on to see how can protect yourself and make the madness stop.
  1. Do. Not. ...
  2. Resist blaming yourself. ...
  3. Inform and assemble your support team. ...
  4. Fortify your social media. ...
  5. Use all resources available to get help.
Sep 5, 2018

What is criminal intent of cyberstalking? ›

Under federal law, cyberstalking is defined as engaging in any online conduct with the intent to “kill, injure, harass, intimidate, or place under surveillance,” if that conduct causes the target to suffer a reasonable fear of serious bodily injury or death.

What is the most common consequence of stalking? ›

Victims of stalking experience a number of disruptive psychological consequences of stalking, including significant fear and safety concerns, as well as symptoms of depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder (2). Most stalking victims do not seek mental health services (2).

What is the one trait all stalkers have in common? ›

The one trait all stalkers share is that they suffer from a personality or mental disorder, if not both. Just as anyone can be a stalker, virtually anyone can be a stalking victim.

What are the three types of stalkers? ›

Using this typology, stalkers can be classified as a former sexual intimate (ex-intimate), an acquaintance (including friends and family members), or a stranger (either public figure or private stranger) (see Mohandie, Meloy, Green-McGowan, & Williams (2006). Journal of Forensic Sciences 51, 147–155).

What is the federal law for cyber harassment? ›

The federal law concerning cyberstalking is 18 U.S.C. § 2261A(2). It provides that it's unlawful for any person to engage in a course of conduct through electronic communication that makes another individual reasonably fear death or serious bodily harm to themselves or another (including a pet or service animal).

Why is it hard to prosecute cyberstalking? ›

Jurisdiction, jurisdiction, jurisdiction. This is the No. 1 barrier to prosecuting cyber crime. Most of the time, the person committing the crime is located outside of the country (or at least outside the legal jurisdiction of the court and prosecutors seeking the conviction).

Why is cyber stalking a serious crime? ›

Consequences of cyberstalking

They may face severe forms of online harassment, including sexual harassment and physical threats. In almost every cyberstalking case, victims feel annoyed at best and fearful at worst. Confusion, anger and anxiety are common among victims.

Which of the following is an example of the most common type of stalking? ›

Simple Obsessional: This is the most common type of stalker. The stalker is usually a male and the focus of the stalking is an ex-wife, ex-lover or former boss.

What cybercrime involves harassment? ›

Cyber Stalking

It can involve the use of email, instant messaging, chat rooms, bulletin boards and/or other electronic communication devices to repeatedly harass or threaten another person. The process of stalking a person in real life generally requires that the perpetrator and victim be in close physical proximity.

What does a Cyberstalker do? ›

Cyberstalking is the persistent harassment of a victim through distressing communications sent via the internet or other electronic means. Internet stalking can happen through email, text message, social media, web forums, GPS trackers, or any type of digital community, channel, or other online tool.

What crime is similar to stalking? ›

Harassment is very similar to stalking; however, the most significant difference between stalking and harassment is that, in order to convict an individual of harassment, the state only has to prove that the defendant was engaging in a course of conduct with the intent to annoy or bother another individual.

Who is likely to be a victim of stalking? ›

Stalking is a crime in all 50 states and at the federal level, and it can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, geographic location, or personal associations. The majority of stalking victims are women and most stalkers are men, but men can be victims, too.

Is cyberstalking a crime in the US? ›

It is a specific federal crime and falls under a federal stalking statute as part of the Violence Against Women Act of 2005. The law was amended in 2013 to include stalking by the Internet or by telephone and no longer requires that the perpetrator and victim live in different legal jurisdictions.

Who is the mostly victim of cybercrime? ›

Cybersecurity report finds cybercrime victims are often Millennials and Gen Zers - Information Technology.

What are 3 types of information cybercriminals steal? ›

A cybercriminal may use a device to access a user's personal information, confidential business information, government information, or disable a device.

What is web jacking? ›

Web Jacking is a phishing attack intended to extract confidential data from users. It follows a basic skeleton, from creating a fake website to freezing it to steal the users' login information.

Can you report someone on the Internet? ›

If you are the victim of an online or internet-enabled crime, file a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) as soon as possible. Crime reports are used for investigative and intelligence purposes. Rapid reporting can also help support the recovery of lost funds.

What are 5 computer crimes? ›

What is Cybercrime?
  • Phishing Scams.
  • Website Spoofing.
  • Ransomware.
  • Malware.
  • IOT Hacking.
Oct 3, 2022

How do I report sextortion? ›

If young people are being exploited, they are the victim of a crime and should report it. Contact your local FBI field office, call 1-800-CALL-FBI, or report it online at The FBI also has staff dedicated to assisting victims of crime.

What are three to five behaviors that may constitute cyberstalking? ›

Examples of cyberstalking include:
  • Sending unwanted, frightening, or obscene emails, or text messages.
  • Harassing or threatening you on social media.
  • Tracking your computer and internet use.
  • Using technology such as GPS to track where you are.

Which states have cyberstalking laws? ›

Criminal sanction: Almost every state has laws that expressly criminalize electronic forms of harassment. The only states that don't are Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

How many states have cyber stalking laws? ›

As of January 2021, 48 states in the U.S. had electronic harassment laws which explicitly included cyberbullying.

What happens when you report someone to the FBI? ›

The FBI will ask you to provide as much information as possible about the perpetrator and details of the threat you have experienced. The FBI will ask for your contact information to follow‐up with you if needed. The FBI will attempt to protect your identity and confidentiality.

What type of crimes does the FBI investigate? ›

The FBI has divided its investigations into a number of programs, such as domestic and international terrorism, foreign counterintelligence, cyber crime, public corruption, civil rights, organized crime/drugs, white-collar crime, violent crimes and major offenders, and applicant matters.

What is cyberstalking with example? ›

Cyberstalking is defined as the use of the internet and other technologies to stalk and harass another individual. Cyberstalking can be done through an excessive amount of text messages, emails, and social media posts. This form of stalking is considered an extension of in-person stalking and cyberbullying.

What form of abuse is stalking? ›

Stalking is a form of emotional abuse that can start out. subtly and escalate to physical violence.


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