What is Cyber stalking?
Most people think of stalking as something that involves in-person scenarios. An ex-boyfriend or girlfriend might follow you to work or show up at your home uninvited. A stranger struggling with mental health issues could see you in public and become obsessed with you. These are all frightening scenarios that describe stalking, but there is another place in which stalking can occur and be just as invasive: the Internet.
Cyber Stalking vs. Identity Theft
Online stalking can have a romantic bent, but its goal is generally to destroy the life of the victim. Any attack on a single person in an effort to exact control or revenge is considered cyber stalking. It can include harassment or humiliation of the victim or the victim’s loved ones, theft, threat of harm, or a combination of all three.
Sometimes cyber stalking is a component of traditional stalking. For instance, a former significant other might harass you online as well as in person. However, most cases of cyber stalking allow the perpetrator to remain somewhat anonymous. There are many instances in which cyber stalking victims never learn the real-life identify of their stalkers.
Cyber stalking differs from identify theft because the goal of identify theft is strictly financial gain. Though there are instances in which a cyber stalker steals from his or her victim, the goal is to destroy the victim’s life. They have a single target, whereas most criminals who commit identity theft care little about the individual victims, of which there are many.
Are you concerned you are at risk of being a victim of cyber stalking? These tips can protect you online.
The personal aspect of cyber stalking means it can be easier for a person to be accused of this crime than identity theft. Whether or not you steal money from someone using the Internet is fairly cut and dry. There is unlikely to be an instance in which you enjoy financial gain illegally without intending to teal from someone online.
Cyber stalking is a different matter. It is possible to cause someone to feel threatened without intending to do so. This line is often crossed when it comes to the end of a romantic relationship. What you view as an attempt to regain your significant other’s affection could be interpreted as a threat.
Accused of Cyber Stalking?
How do you avoid being accused of cyber stalking and what should you do if you are accused?
First, if you are in the midst of ending a relationship and things are tumultuous, avoid interacting online. End social media interactions and consider severing links completely. If you must interact, make sure discussions are factual in nature. For instance, emailing an ex to let him or her know you want your DVD collection mailed to your new address is fine. Including a threat to harm your ex if he or she does not do so could get you into legal trouble. Assume that any interaction you have with someone online will be made public if it is not already and act accordingly. If saying something could later paint you in a negative light to law enforcement, do not say or write it.
Have you been accused of cyber stalking? Are you concerned interacting with someone online could get you into legal trouble? I can help. Contact David Lindsey, Denver criminal law attorney.