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Inside cyberstalking

Oracle Tips by Burleson Consulting

This new Florida ruling makes it clear that harassment on the web is not being tolerated as a First Amendment right:

"If you think your ex-husband is a lying, cheating, scamming, con artist with no conscience and no soul, you're entitled to your opinion.  But posting warnings about him on the Web amounts to cyberstalking, a Florida judge has ruled."

This article titled ?Create an e-annoyance, go to jail? makes it clear that anonymous blogging about another person is now a Felony if it annoys them:

?In other words, it's OK to flame someone on a mailing list or in a blog as long as you do it under your real name.?

This new legislation heralds the end of the anonymous blogger, who hides behind their anonymity to post false and defamatory statements about individuals.

Cyberstalking laws in the USA have made it clear that internet harassment and defamation are serious offenses.  Here are some US laws that are being used to prosecute internet harassment, invasion of privacy and defamation:

  • ?It is the policy of the United States -- to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal criminal laws to deter and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment by means of computer?. (see 47 U.S.C. ? 230(b)(5))

  • ?Electronically mail or electronically communicate to another and to knowingly make any false statement concerning death, injury, illness, disfigurement, indecent conduct, or criminal conduct of the person electronically mailed or of any member of the person's family or household with the intent to abuse, annoy, threaten, terrify, harass, or embarrass.? (see North Carolina Code ?14-169.3(b)(3))

  • Federal law 47 U.S.C. ? 223(a)(1)(C) penalizes whoever:

(1) in interstate or foreign communications-

(C) makes a telephone call or utilizes a telecommunications device, whether or not conversation or communication ensues, without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person at the called number or who receives the communications.

  • Intrusion and false light claims as types of invasion of privacy actions:

1 - intrusion upon the plaintiff's seclusion or solitude or into his private affairs; and

2 - publicity which places the plaintiff in a false light in the public eye.

More than ever before, injured parties are seeking remedies for damage to their business and reputation, and many of these cases are related to "anonymous" postings in message boards, chat rooms, forums and blogs.  In this age of instant publishing it is very easy for criminals to conspire to harass, defame and attack their victims.  But there is some hope, and some tough new laws like felony designations where anonymous "annoyances" can be felonies, efforts to bring safety to the Internet.  The NBC Dateline show cites that there are over 50,000 web predators on the internet at any time.  Also see the book on protection from Cyberstalkers

I worked very hard on my book "Web Stalkers: Protect yourself from Internet Criminals & Psychopaths", and I see that this Amazon review of Web Stalkers notes that the rampant criminality on the web is of concern to many netizens.  The book has been very well-received and some reviewers are thankful that some criminal tactics have been exposed:



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