U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Cyberstalking: An International Perspective (From Dot.cons: Crime, Deviance and Identity on the Internet, P 105-126, 2003, Yvonne Jewkes, ed. -- See NCJ-199525)

NCJ Number
Janice Joseph
Date Published
22 pages
This chapter examines various forms of "cyberstalking;" legal responses by governments in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia; the challenges law enforcement officers face when investigating the problem; and the control and prevention of cyberstalking.
Cyberstalkers often have a sophisticated knowledge of computers and the Internet and can "mask" their intimidating e-mails to victims to disguise their origin. More technologically sophisticated e-mail harassers send "mail bombs," which fill a person's mailbox with hundreds or even thousands of unwanted messages in the hope of making the account useless. Others send electronic viruses that can infect the victim's files. Cyberstalkers can use chat rooms to slander and endanger their victims. Chat-line users may capture, store, and transmit communications to others outside the chat service. On the Internet, public messages can be accessed by anyone at any time. Online stalkers have been known to post insulting messages on electronic bulletin boards signed with the e-mail address of the person being harassed. With computer stalking, the cyberstalker exploits the Internet and the Windows operating system in order to assume control over the computer of the targeted victim. The U.S. Federal Government has passed a number of important pieces of legislation that can be used to prosecute cyberstalkers, although as this chapter indicates, none are comprehensive, and all contain loopholes. Despite the fact that Canada does not have any formal laws that deal specifically with cyberstalking, existing stalking laws do encompass electronic stalking as a criminal activity. Great Britain had its first cyberstalking conviction in 1999 when a Cambridge graduate was prosecuted in 1999 for harassment by e-mail. Although many States in Australia have antistalking laws, Victoria and Queensland are the only States that include sending electronic messages to, or otherwise contacting, the victim in their legislation. This chapter advises that all governments should enact new laws that specifically target electronic stalking activities. Also, law enforcement officers must be trained to deal with cyberstalking. Further, cyber-industries must develop policies and procedures for protecting their clients. Finally, individuals should become informed about the dangers of the Internet and ways to protect their privacy while using the Internet.


No download available