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Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is online stalking. It's the use of technology, particularly the Internet, to harass someone. Common characteristics include false accusations, monitoring, threats, identity theft, and data destruction or manipulation. Cyberstalking also includes exploitation of minors, sexual or otherwise. The harassment can take on many forms, but it is usually unwanted, often obsessive, and usually illegal. Email, instant messages, phone calls, or any other communication device can be the tool in which the stalking can reach you.

Activities that can be considered cyberstalking include delivering threatening or harassing messages through one or more of the following:
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  • Email
  • Chat rooms
  • Message boards
  • Newsgroups
  • Forums
Other variations of cyberstalking include the following:

  • Sending inappropriate electronic greeting cards
  • Posting personal advertisements in the victim's name
  • Creating websites that contain threatening or harassing messages or that contain provocative or pornographic photographs, most of which have been altered
  • Sending viruses to the victim's computer
  • Using spyware to track website visits or record keystrokes the victim makes
  • Sending harassing messages to the victim's employers, co-workers, students, teachers, customers, friends, families, or churches, or sending harassing messages forged in the victim's name to others
Advice to give to victims for safe internet use:

  • Be careful when posting personal or private information.
  • Check the harassment policies of your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
  • Do not use your full name for your user ID, and change your password often.
  • Report harassing email or chat room abuse to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). If you know the ISP of the person, tell that ISP too. They can cut off the person's account if it is being used to harass others. Ask about tools to block unwanted communication.
  • Do an Internet search on cyberstalking. You will find many sites with tips and information. Some can help track down harassers, document their origin, and send reports to you or the police.

More information on cyberstalking at:

www.metrac.org/programs/info/cyber.htm
www.justice.gc.ca/eng/pi/fv-vf/pub/har/part1.html