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Cyber stalking: An Analysis of Online Harassment and Intimidation

NCJ Number
International Journal of Cyber Criminology Volume: 1 Issue: 2 Dated: 2007 Pages: 180-197
Michael L. Pittaro
Date Published
18 pages
This paper examines the deviant behaviors and tactics involved in "cyber-stalking" crimes (one Internet user harassing, threatening, and stimulating fear in another Internet user), legislative countermeasures, and prevention efforts tailored to this emerging global crime.
Part I of the paper compares online stalking with traditional offline stalking, noting that to some extent cyber stalking is an extension of traditional stalking, with the distinction being that the stalker uses the Internet as a tool for harassing, threatening, and fear-inducing textual and image communications. Further, both cyber stalkers and traditional stalkers are motivated by an obsession with having power, control, and influence over their victims. One of the distinctions between cyber stalkers and traditional stalkers is cyber stalkers' proficiency with computers and the use of the Internet, which may include knowledge about how to avoid detection through anonymity aided by simple and inexpensive tactics, such as connecting to several different Internet service providers and the creation of a number of screen names. These tactics make it nearly impossible to track e-mail origins. Part II of the paper examines the Internet as a medium for online predatory behavior. It addresses the prevalence of cyber stalking and stalkers' use of e-mail. Part III focuses on the typology and etiology of cyber stalking and its victims. This includes discussions of stalker psychological factors; underlying causal theories, namely, social learning theory and rational choice theory; and treatment. Part IV considers legal and social issues in cyber stalking. Topics discussed are the unique challenges for law enforcement, antistalking legislation in the United States, cyber-talking State statutes, and intervention and prevention measures. The latter include practical and technical suggestions for how actual and potential victims can avoid being exposed to the tactics and effects of cyber stalking. 37 references