September 23, 2022

By Shreya Kumari.

The author is a first-year law student at Xavier Law School Bhubneshwar.

cyberstalking
Wikimedia Commons

Cyberstalking is a form of criminal activity. Two people have been involved in cyberstalking: the stalker (also known as an attacker) who commits the crime and the victim who the stalker harasses. Cyberstalking is also referred to as a form of cybercrime. Stalking is defined as researching someone’s online history using social media or other websites to learn more about that person.

The term “stalking” refers to a stealthy pursuit. The words “cyberstalking,” “online harassment,” and “online abuse” are interchangeable. It stalks or harasses a person through the internet or other electronic means since the internet carries stalking or harassment. Individuals, groups, and even organizations can be targeted. The use of technology allows stalkers to pursue their victims from thousands of miles distant. Several sorts of cyberstalking can occur:

  1. Compiling the victim’s information from several electronic sources.
  2. Spreading untrue rumors.
  3. Encouraging others to join in with the harassing.
  4. Sending the frightening target texts from several sources.
  5. Access the victim’s online accounts.
  6.  Disseminating photos of victims to instill terror.

Cyberstalking can cause victims to develop depression, hypertension, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, and other illnesses. The cyberstalked gains control when a victim can’t figure out who the stalker is or knows what to do. Cyberstalking communications are not typical spam; the message explicitly identifies the cyberstalked target as a specific individual, group of people, or organization. There are various ways in which a Cyber Stalker harasses a person; for example, if a person receives a negative comment on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media site, the person may become upset and irritated from the inside, but this isn’t cyber-crime yet because celebrities face all of these things daily. When a person receives harsh remarks or messages from the same person on many social media sites, it becomes Cyber Crime. The Cyber Stalker begins to transmit messages to individuals. It will be considered cyberstalking if the accused follows the victim everywhere he goes to create a danger that would cause him to become depressed or suicidal.

Now the point is who is behind this crime, The simple answer to this question is the people around you, or the one who is close to you #Beware #Besafe. The majority of cyberstalks are familiar with their prey. They keep tabs on the victim on various social media platforms and then in real life by getting close to them and learning their weak spots. Then they try to blackmail the accused or do anything else that the victim dislikes—the accused acts out of vengeance, wrath, control, or even lust most of the time. Only a tiny percentage of cyberstalking cases involve someone seeking to attract the attention of a former or potential spouse. While some individuals may find this behavior acceptable and even romantic, it can be deemed harassment if the communication is undesired and good or romantic if desired. If this happens to anyone, the first thing to do is observe them, and if anything doesn’t feel right, urge the individual to stop, and then take action such as barring them from social media accounts. If the problem remains after you’ve exhausted all other options, it’s time to call the cops.

There are several legal aspects also attached to cyberstalking in India and abroad. Professional attackers are brutal to punish since they are well-versed in the various methods for escaping the traps set for them. They essentially create bogus identities to pursue someone, and cyberstalking is a problem that affects practically every country. As a result, proper codified legislation for Cyber Stalking is required. However, many countries still do not have any laws against cyberstalking[1]. Many general rules encompass cyberstalking; however, it should be treated as a separate law because it is a severe crime in and of itself. Stalking is a felony offense in India, such as phone calls, text messages, or emails. It carries a sentence of one to three years in prison. Furthermore, a stalker can be charged under Section 509 of the IPC if the stalker’s acts infringe on a lady’s privacy by making any gestures or conveying words via e-mails, messaging, or social media. He would be charged under Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code [2][3]if they engaged in any of these crimes. According to Section 67A of the IT Act, this section is relevant to cyberstalking. After the 2008 amendment, this section was added. It states that if a stalker attempts to disseminate any “sexually explicit” material in electronic forms, such as through emails, messages, or social media, he will be prosecuted with an offense under Section 67A of the IT Act and punished.

HOW TO AVOID CYBERSTALKING:

As we all know, prevention is preferable to cure. As a result, these are the things we should avoid being affected by cyberstalking. It is preferable to become a victim than to take precautions against Cyber Stalking. If you follow these guidelines, you will have a low risk of being targeted by cyberstalks.

  1. Maintain a modest profile.
  2. Keep your software up to date.
  3. Hide your Internet Protocol (IP) address.
  4. Keep your Google account clean.
  5. Don’t reveal vital information
  6. Don’t feel forced to fill out all of your information on the internet.

Being stalked may be terrifying and paralyzing. Victims aren’t traumatized once; they’re constantly disturbed by attempts at contact and often feel as if there’s nowhere safe to escape. Don’t make excuses for the stalker or persuade yourself you’re overreacting if you’re being followed. Tell a friend or family member what’s going on so you have someone to talk to and someone to witness it. Dial 911 if you are in immediate danger or are being followed. Overreacting has no cost, while underreacting to stalking can be dangerous in extreme situations. Other things you can do to stay safe include: 

  1. Varying your routine makes it more difficult for your stalker to track you down.
  2. Tell your friends, relatives, and coworkers not to share personal information about you without your permission.
  3.  Keep a record of every event to have proof if you need to file charges.
  4. Get a restraining order against the stalker and notify the cops immediately if they break it.

The usage of the internet opens up new avenues for stalking. As a result, it is archaic to teach our children and even adults about cyberstalking and its far-reaching implications. So, if all of these precautions are performed, there is a very slim possibility that someone will stalk you; but, if someone does stalk you, register a complaint with the Cyber Cell. To report Cyber Stalking or any other crime, call the police or make a complaint with the cyber cell


[1] NORCAL. https://norcaloa.com/journals/JAPS/JAPS-102019.pdf

[2] The virtual reality of cyberstalking in India – iPleaders. https://blog.ipleaders.in/virtual-reality-cyberstalking-india/

 

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