Cyberstalkers: You Can Type, But You Can’t Always Hide
Cyberstalking is an online, or electronic, attack on another person that is intended to exact control or revenge, harass, humiliate, and/or frighten that person, and sometimes his/her loved ones as well.
Often cyberstalking is repetitive, such as when the cyberstalker anonymously posts multiple harassing messages. It can also be a single incident, such as a harassing comment posted under the guise of a book review on Amazon. My wife recently wrote about Amazon taking down a cyberstalker’s personal attack, posed as a book review. You can read that article here: Dealing with Cyberstalkers
Cyberstalking is a Crime
Cyberstalkers love the anonymity of the Internet because they think they can hide behind their bogus IDs, anonymous logins or fictional identities. Believing they are invisible behind their electronic shields, they lob lies, threats, and other harassments at their victims. They don’t realize their phony IDs are sometimes uncovered and their real identities traced. They then learn just how seriously the legal system views their cyberstalking crimes.
Florida Cyberstalking Case: Possible Life in Prison Sentences
In this trial, former optometrist David Matusiewicz; his mother, Lenore Matusiewicz; and his sister, Amy Gonzalez are accused of conspiracy and cyberstalking of David’s ex-wife, Christine Belford. Because their cyberstalking resulted in the victim, Christine’s, death, the defendants could each face life in prison if convicted.
Colorado Harassment Law: Class 3 Misdemeanor
In my state of Colorado, the below actions are considered harassment under Colorado law. If an individual is accused of any of these actions — with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person — he/she can be charged with harassment:
- Striking, shoving, kicking or touching another person,
- Directing obscene language or gestures to another person in a public place,
- Following a person in a public place,
- Calling someone or contacting them by phone, computer, or other system with intent to harass, or threaten, or makes obscene calls,
- Calling another person repeatedly whether or not a conversation happens,
- Repeatedly communicating at inconvenient hours, or
- Repeatedly insulting, taunting, or challenging someone in a manner likely to provoke a fight.
In most circumstances, harassment is a Class 3 misdemeanor, with the potential penalty of up to 6 months in jail and a $50 fine (Ref: CRS 18-9-111).
Articles on Cyberstalking
How the Law Is Standing Up to Cyberstalking (Newsweek)
Are You Being Stalked? (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse)
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