In recent years, stalkers have found a new medium through which to commit crimes against their victims- the internet. The reason for this is that the perceived anonymity of the World Wide Web makes it a safe vessel through which stalkers can terrorize, harass and threaten the very victims which have obtained offline restraining orders against them, or even individuals whom they have never met before offline.
The topic of 'revenge sites' has even many First Amendment activists divided. These sites have sprung up all over the World Wide Web urging people to submit the names, social security numbers, ages and names of children, etc. of the perceived 'offending party', generally an ex-spouse or lover, but to include ex-roommates, friends and family members. Many of these sites even charge membership fees! These sites, often illegally, harass and endanger the lives of many innocent victims and are often perpetrated by vengeful and obsessively dangerous persons. One site in particular, frequented by my stalker, had a submission sent at one point that suggested breaking a light bulb into the victim's puppy's food and gleefully watching the victim's grief as the puppy died slowly of internal bleeding! This person later went on to submit the name and address of an ex-spouse under a different handle.
However, due to my case with my stalker (whose stalking first began offline and then progressed online in an attempt to avoid legal repercussions) as well as a case in Los Angeles County , on January 1, 1999, California stalking legislation included the use of the internet and other electronic means into the penal code.
However, many victims of cyber-stalking crimes do not know the identity of their stalkers which makes prosecuting such crimes extremely frusterating. A non-profit organization has sprung up by the name of Cyber Angels. Through this non-profit organization, one may report incidences of cyber harassment, terrorization and stalking.
I would like to add though for those reading this who have been the victim of such harassment, that my stalker was actually prosecuted for her crimes, ordered by a judge to take down her personal 'revenge' site against me and my boyfriend (which urged others to harass us for her since criminal and civil protective orders had been issued against her protetecting us from such behavior on her part). Moreover, in November 1999 a warrantless search and seizure clause was added to her formal probation terms. This was a particular victory for Scott and I (as it would have been to anyone who had been a victim of such ongoing crimes) in the sense that if anything should "appear" on the internet that threatens or harasses Scott or myself, her computer can be confiscated in the absence of a warrant. She, of course, has been trying to appeal this particular condition of her probation ever sense and to no avail.
If you are concerned with online privacy, below are links to some sites specifically created with the growing concern for privacy online in mind:
The Privacy Forum
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
For more information on cyber-stalking:
| It Happened to Me: My Story| Cyber-Stalking | Investigating E-mail Origins
| Tips for the Stalked, From the Stalked | Stalkers and the Borderline Personality | Erotomania | Where to Turn for Help | LA County Cyber-Stalker Receives Verdict
| Restraining Order Q&A | What Cyber-Stalkers Know About You | Am I Being Stalked? Signs That Could Save Your Life