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Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk someone. This term is used interchangeably with online harassment and online abuse. Stalking generally involves harassing or threatening behavior 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 Behaviors
* 2 Cyberstalking legislation
* 3 Cyberstalking law enforcement
* 4 See also
* 5 Further reading
* 6 Notes
* 7 External links
Cyberstalkers target victims using online forums, bulletin boards, chat rooms, and more recently, through online communities such as MySpace and The Facebook. They may engage in live chat harassment or flaming or they may send electronic viruses and unsolicited e-mails.  Victims of cyberstalkers may not even know that they are being stalked. Cyberstalkers may research individuals to feed obsessions and curiosities that they possess. Conversely, the acts of cyberstalkers may become more intense, such as repeatedly instant messaging their targets.  More commonly they will post defamatory or derogatory statements about their stalking target on web pages, message boards and in guest books designed to trigger a reaction or response from their victim, thereby initiating contact.  In some cases, they have been known to create fake blogs in the name of the victim containing defamatory or pornographic content.
When prosecuted, many stalkers have unsuccessfully attempted to justify their behavior based on their use of public forums, as opposed to direct contact. Once they get a reaction from the victim, they will typically attempt to track or follow the victim's internet activity. Classic cyberstalking behavior includes the tracing of the victim's IP address in an attempt to verify their home or place of employment. 
Stalking does not consist of single incidents, but is a continuous process. Similar to stalking off-line (physical stalking), cyberstalking can be a terrifying experience for victims, placing them at risk of psychological trauma, and possible physical harm. As Rokkers writes, "Stalking is a form of mental assault, in which the perpetrator repeatedly, unwantedly, and disruptively breaks into the life-world of the victim, with whom they have no relationship (or no longer have)....Moreover, the separated acts that make up the intrusion cannot by themselves cause the mental abuse, but do taken together (cumulative effect)." (For a list of effects, see Stalking)
Some cyberstalking situations do evolve into physical stalking, and a victim may experience abusive and excessive phone calls, vandalism, threatening or obscene mail, trespassing, and physical assault. Moreover, many physical stalkers will use cyberstalking as another method of harassing their victims. 
 Cyberstalking legislation
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The first U.S. cyberstalking law went into effect in 1999 in California. Other states include prohibition against cyberstalking in their harassment or stalking legislation. In Florida, HB 479 was introduced in 2003 to ban cyberstalking. This was signed into law on October 2003. 
States in the U.S. that have begun to address the use of computer equipment for stalking purposes, include:
* Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire and New York have included prohibitions against harassing electronic, computer or e-mail communications in their harassment legislation.
* Alaska, Florida, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and California, have incorporated electronically communicated statements as conduct constituting stalking in their anti-stalking laws.
* A few states have both stalking and harassment statutes that criminalize threatening and unwanted electronic communications.
* Other states have laws other than harassment or anti-stalking statutes that prohibit misuse of computer communications and e-mail, while others have passed laws containing broad language that can be interpreted to include cyberstalking behaviors
Cyberstalking has also been addressed in recent U.S. federal law. For example, the Violence Against Women Act, passed in 2000, made cyberstalking a part of the federal interstate stalking statute. Still, there remains a lack of legislation at the federal level to specifically address cyberstalking, leaving the majority of legislative prohibitions against cyberstalking at the state level.
Other countries have begun to include online abuse in their anti-stalking legislation. In Australia, the Stalking Amendment Act (1999) includes the use of any form of technology to harass a target as forms of "criminal stalking." In the United Kingdom, the Malicious Communications Act (1998) classified cyberstalking as a criminal offense.
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 the alleged stalker's course of conduct constitute an implied threat.(1) While some conduct involving annoying or menacing behavior might fall short of illegal stalking, such behavior may be a prelude to stalking and violence and should be treated seriously.
Online identity stealth blurs the line on infringement of the rights of would-be victims to identify their perpetrators. There is a need to debate how internet use can be traced without infringing on protected civil liberties.
 Cyberstalking law enforcement
Law enforcement has often not caught up with the times, and officials are in many cases simply telling the victims to avoid the websites where they are being harassed or having their privacy violated. Some assistance can be found by contacting the web host companies (if the material is on a website) or the ISP of the abuser. Many victims note that persistence is a key. At times the seriousness of the impact of this type of violation is not comprehended and the third party facilitators of cyberstalkers tell the victim to work it out with their harasser.
Current US Anti-Cyber-Stalking law is found at 47 USC sec. 223.
 See also
* Harassment by computer
* Hate group
* Online predator
* Online dating
* Internet fraud
* ToS violation
 Further reading
* Bocij, Paul. Cyberstalking : Harassment in the Internet Age and How to Protect Your Family. Praeger Publishers, 2004. (ISBN 0-275-98118-5)
* Meloy, J. The Psychology of Stalking. Reid. Academic Press, 2000. (ISBN 0-12-490561-7)
* Mullen, Paul E.; Pathé, Michele; Purcell, Rosemary. Stalkers and Their Victims. Cambridge University Press, 2000. (ISBN 0-521-66950-2)
* PDF article on Cyberstalking in the United Kingdom
* Crime Library: Cyberstalking
* Cyber-Stalking Obsessional Pursuit and the Digital Criminal Petherick Wayne, 2005
* Cyberstalking – Is it Covered by Current Anti-Stalking Laws? by Craig Lee and Patrick Lynch
1. ^ a b c d e Cyberstalking
2. ^ http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/con ... 163/9/1642
3. ^ CyberStalking: menaced on the internet
4. ^ Types of Stalkers and Stalking Patterns
5. ^ Cyber-Stalking: Obsessional Pursuit and the Digital Criminal
6. ^ Florida Statute 784.048. Florida Computer Crime Center.
7. ^ Stalking/UK
8. ^ Cyberstalking: A New Challenge for Law Enforcement and Industry
 External links
* State Computer United States harassment or "Cyberstalking" Laws
* Cyberstalking - Menaced on the internet
* United States law and the Internet
* The National Center for Victims of Crime US based
* Wired Safety
* Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
* 1999 Report on Cyberstalking: A New Challenge for Law Enforcement and Industry
* The National Center for Victims of Crime
* Cyber Safety Education in Schools and Colleges Mumbai, India
* CourtTV Crime Library: Cyber-Stalking: Obsessional Pursuit and the Digital Criminal: Stalking Typologies and Pathologies
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberstalking"
Categories: Articles with limited geographic scope | Articles with unsourced statements since February 2007 | All articles with unsourced statements | Abuse | Aggression | Computer crimes | Sociology | Internet culture | Internet crime
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