CYBER STALKING

With the amount of online presence that we have today, it is extremely easy for stalkers to use the Internet to stalk you. Cyberstalking sure is a sad and creepy part of modern society. Let’s take a closer look at how to recognize it, prevent it, and what to do if you find yourself on a creeper’s radar. A stalker may be an online stranger or a person whom the target knows. They may be anonymous and solicit involvement of other people online who do not even know the target.

Cyberstalking is a criminal offense under various state anti-stalking, slander and harassment laws. A conviction can result in a restraining order, probation, or criminal penalties against the assailant, including jail [1]. Cyberstalking is a technologically-based “attack” on one person who has been targeted specifically for that attack for reasons of anger, revenge or control. Cyberstalking can cause extreme distress for the victim. It can impact their career, personal relationships, and quality of life. Often times victims do not know who the perpetrator is and start wondering if they are being watched or followed. The common denominator amongst cyberstalking cases is that they are typically against the law, unsolicited by the victim, and unrelenting [2].

Interesting facts about cyberstalking

  • Half of all victims were ex’s of the stalker.
  • Most victims were between 18 and 29 years.
  • More than half the cyber stalkers were men.
  • Over 30% of cyber stalking begins on social media sites[3].

WHAT IS CYBERSTALKING ?

In the real world, stalking definition is unwanted obsessive attention to a specific person. Physical stalking can get forms of following, secretly watching, persistent calling and texting to manipulate, and finding other means to approach the victim unexpectedly. Now let’s turn to the digital world. Cyber stalkers are driven by the same intention – to embarrass, threaten, or harass their victims. The difference is, they rely on online technology to do it. Email, social networks, instant messaging, personal data available online, everything on the Internet can be used by cyber stalkers to make inappropriate contact with their victims. But don’t confuse cyberstalking with social media stalking. ‘Doing research’ on your newly hired colleague by exploring his or her Facebook profile and Instagram feed is rather innocent. Keeping an eye on someone’s activity on social media is simply getting insights into one’s life without giving anything in return. Cyberstalking is way more serious as it involves nefarious intentions, ranging from false accusations and defamation to sexual harassment and even encouraging others to harass the victim. In many cases, physical and cyber stalking interconnects, making it even more threatening.

TYPES OF CYBER STALKING

CATFISHING

Catfishing occurs on social media sites, such as Facebook, when online stalkers create fake user profiles and approach their victims as a friend of a friend or expressing romantic interest. To look more like a real person, cyber stalkers sometimes copy profiles of existing users, impersonating their identity[4].

MONITORING THE LOCATION ON SOCIAL MEDIA

If you’re adding location check-ins to your Facebook and Instagram posts, you’re making it super easy for a cyber stalker to track you by simply scrolling through your social media profiles. When combined together, location-tagged posts can indicate your behavior patterns quite accurately. If cyber stalkers get to know their victim’s home address, all they have to do is open Google Maps and type it in.

By using the Street View, they can see exactly how the house looks without even stepping into the victim’s neighbourhood and drawing attention. Also, cyber stalkers can virtually research the environment: surrounding houses, cameras, and alleys, to get a sense about the neighbours.

Internet stalkers love geotags – and for a good reason. Every digital picture you take may contain geotags, which are pieces of metadata revealing the location of where and when the photo was taken. Geotags come in the EXIF format, which is embedded into an image file and can be extracted and viewed with the help of special apps. This way, a cyberstalker can learn about your whereabouts[5].

HIJACKING THE WEBCAM

Hijacking a computer’s webcam is one of the creepiest methods cyber stalkers use to invade victim’s privacy. Creepers would try to trick you into downloading and installing a malware-infected file that would grant them access to your webcam. The process is so sneaky that it’s likely you wouldn’t suspect anything strange. If just the thought about someone secretly watching you through your webcam gives you shivers.

REASONS BEHIND CYBER STALKING

  1. HARASSMENT : The main intention of the stalker is to harass. The women sexually harassed by the stalker at many times. The stalker has or created a photo of the victim and he threaten the victim to have sex with him otherwise he will upload the photo or video. The stalker has some affection to victim, if she denied that then he will do against the victim. The thing is the stalker has intention that’ if she not mine of himself, she will not mine of anyone. ‘Then the stalker doing all those things.
  2. FASCINATION: This is a one side love or online romance. The stalker has love of affection towards the victim and if she refuses to accept his proposal then he will become the stalker. The rejected could not accept the end of relationship with her. This kind of stalkers some time being a abnormal persons. Sometimes the victim may be killed by the accused. In Tamil Nadu 2012, the college girl affected by the acid attack, done by her one side lover.
  3. REVENGE:  This is kind of revenge against the victim. If the victim was refused his proposal then he made revenge against the victim. In Germany the victim refused to accept the stalker’s proposal. Then he upload her photo into the social media and written above that ‘if anybody want’s to sex with me contact me’ and he wrote her address and phone number. The victim does not have knowledge about this and many persons are contacted her and some knocked her door in the midnight and sexually harassed her[6].

RIGHT TO PRIVACY VS FREEDOM OF SPEECH & EXPRESSION

Every person has both the rights. If the stalker were arrested, whether is freedom of speech and expression was violated? If he doing like this then how can women exercise her right to privacy? Article 19(2) gave some restrictions to the exercise of freedom of speech and expression. It gives that he exercises his freedom not to violative of any other rights of others. Right to privacy was very important right for the individual. Any person can personally do some acts not to violate anyone. A women has right to access internet and if any person has right to expose her body without her consent.

In cassidy’s case, the defendant arguing that this is his freedom, he can watch anybody and make a sense of it. No one cannot pick up his right. The judge not accepted his argument because this is very silly defence what means of right to privacy, whether his freedom is to expose another’s body or any other personal things. Right to privacy is very important for women. She has a right to life, right to life includes right to dignity. No one cannot violate her modesty i.e., right to dignity. The provisions alone saying every person has rights. But the enforcement of these rights in not accessible. The documents and provisions are saying, people are writing page and page about women rights but whether exercising of their rights is happening. Whether the enforcement of these rights are happening or not, but the violation of these rights are happening usually. Even after the period till now the position of the women was very critical. The forms of crime are changing but the protection of the women is unchanged[7].

LEGAL POSITION IN U.K

The UK does not have a specific legislation to deal with cyber-stalking. There are three legislations that seek to criminalize such behaviour. The first of these legislations is the Telecommunications Act, 1984. Under this Act, it is an offence to send a message that is “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character” or a message with the purpose of “causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety” and knows that the message is false, by means of a telecommunications system. The second legislation on the point is the Protection from Harassment Act, 1997, which makes the offence of criminal harassment and the offence involving fear of violence subject to civil and criminal measures. The third legislation on the point is the Malicious Communications Act, 1988. By the Criminal Justice and Police Act, 2001, this legislation was amended to include electronic communications as well.

LEGAL POSITION IN INDIA

India also lacks a specific legislation on cyber-stalking. The general legislation on the point is the Indian Penal Code which makes the use of “words, sounds or gestures or exhibition of an object” with the intent to insult the modesty of a woman or even the intrusion of a woman’s privacy an offence punishable with imprisonment for one year or with a fine. This deficiency was sought to be rectified by the enactment of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The IT Act was enacted with the purpose of recognizing electronic commerce in furtherance of the United Nations Model Law on Electronic Commerce. Therefore, the first problem with the Act lies in the Preamble itself where the statute adopts a more commercial outlook and does not even attempt to recognize in the Preamble, the intention of the statute to regulate non-commercial criminal behaviour perpetrated through an electronic mode.

Nonetheless, the provisions of the IT Act do attempt to penalize acts of cyber-stalking. Prior to the 2008 amendment, the first section that dealt with the issue is Section 67 which makes the publication of any material that is “lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons” punishable with imprisonment up to five years and fine up to one lakh rupees which may increase to ten years and fine of two lakh rupees if the offender is convicted for the second time. The second provision on cyber-stalking is Section 72, which penalizes the disclosure of information obtained from “electronic record, book, register, correspondence, information, document or other material” without the consent of the concerned person with imprisonment up to two years and a fine up to one lakh rupees.

The generality of these provisions cannot be over-emphasized and it is quite evident that a number of issues such as the use of innocent third-persons of the sending of innocent e-mails which may nonetheless amount to harassment remain unaddressed by these provisions In 2013 the Indian penal code was amended on the impact of Nirbhaya rape case. Sections 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D was inserted on the recommendation of justice J.S Varma committee. Section 354D deals with stalking of a women. This is very limited because there is no provision for stalking of a men. And there is no law for if stalker is foreigner. The Indian penal code,1860 is extra-territorial but there is no effective extradition laws. The enforcement of these laws are still a question mark. Many cases was filled under information technology act before this amendment.

CASES OF CYBER STALKING

  1. Manish Kathuria Case:  

The first reported case of cyber-stalking in India and the reason for the 2008 amendment to the IT Act, the Manish Kathuria case involved the stalking of a woman named Ritu Kohli. Kathuria followed Kohli on a chat website, abused her by using obscene language and then disseminated her telephone number to various people. Later, he began using Kohli‟s identity to chat on the website “www.mirc.com”. As a result she started receiving almost forty obscene telephone calls at odd hours of the night over three consecutive days. This situation forced her to report the matter to the Delhi Police. As soon as the complaint was made, Delhi Police traced the IP addresses and arrested Kathuria under Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code.

The IT Act was not invoked in the case, since it had not come into force at the time when the complaint was filed. While there is no record of any subsequent proceeding, this case made Indian legislators wake up to the need for a legislation to address cyber-stalking. Even then, it was only in 2008 that Section 66-A was introduced. As a result, now cases are being reported under this section as opposed to Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code, as was the case where a Delhi University student was arrested for stalking a woman from Goa by creating fake profiles on social networking websites, uploading pictures on them and declared her to be his wife. It is hoped that the decision in this would favour the victim.

  • Late President Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter stalking case:

Sharmistha Mukherjee, daughter of late President Pranab Mukherjee, was allegedly harassed by a man, who posted sexually explicit messages on her Facebook page. She lodged a complaint with the Cyber Crime unit of Delhi Police. Police said the “lewd” messages were sent to the complainant through Facebook Messenger. The profile of the sender mentions him as a resident of Nauhati in Hooghly, West Bengal. Mukherjee shared screenshots of the messages sent to her and said she decided to speak up against online harassment as ignoring it would only encourage him further. She also tagged the man who has now deleted his profile from Facebook. 

“This pervert Partha Mandal is sending me dirty sexual messages. My 1st reaction was to ignore and block him. But then I thought the silence would encourage him to find other victims. Just blocking and reporting is not enough. I strongly feel such ppl shd be publicly exposed and humiliated. I’m posting screenshots of his profile and messages he sent me. I’m also tagging him. Please share this post and tag this rat as a message that these pervert acts will not be taken lightly,” she wrote.

  • Karan Girotra case:

The only reported case till date to reach the judiciary on cyber-stalking is also merely an application to grant anticipatory bail. this case dealt with a woman, Shivani Saxena, whose marriage could not be consummated; as a result she filed for divorce by mutual consent. In the midst, she came across Karan Girotra while chatting on the internet, who told her he loved her and wanted to marry her.

On the pretext of introducing her to his family, Girotra invited Saxena over to his house, drugged her and assaulted her sexually. He continued to assure her that he would marry her and began sending her obscene pictures from the night she was assaulted. He also threatened to circulate the pictures if she did not marry him. As a result, an engagement ceremony was performed between the two after which he continued to assault her and eventually called off her engagement to her. As a result, Saxena filed a complaint under Section 66-A of the IT Act.

Though the Court rejected the plea of anticipatory bail on the ground that nude and obscene pictures of Saxena were circulated by Girotra, an act which requires serious custodial interrogation, nonetheless it made some scathing remarks. According to the Court Saxena had failed to disclose her previous marriage to Girotra merely because she agreed to perform the engagement ceremony, even though such mention was made when Girotra had first professed his love to Saxena. The Court also took noted that there was a delay in lodging the FIR by Saxena. What is more shocking is that the Court held that Saxena had consented to the sexual intercourse and had decided to file the complaint only when Girotra refused to marry her.
This case highlights the attitude of the Indian judiciary towards cases involving cyber-stalking. It is appalling that factors as redundant as a delay in filing the FIR have a huge bearing on the outcome of the case. It is for this reason that more stringent legislations are the need of the hour.

  • Vinu Priya case: 

In this case the victim was a 21 years old, who finished her B,sc chemistry. On June 23,2019, when the first photograph appeared, she informed her parents who lodged a complaint with the Cyber Crime Cell. The police, either lacking the investigative skills to trace the origin of the morphed photograph or simply displaying lack of interest, told Vinupriya’s father that it will nab the culprit in two weeks. Two weeks? Seriously? Do those cops in Tamil Nadu’s Cyber Crime Cell understand the trauma Vinupriya and her family would have gone through?

That is not all. One of the officers in the Cyber Crime Cell allegedly asked for a mobile phone if the father wanted the investigation to be done. Vinupriya’s father says he bought a cell phone worth Rs 2,000 for the cop and bemoans that despite taking a bribe, the officer did not deliver justice. On June 26, another obscene photograph was posted on Facebook, leaving Vinu priya traumatized.

The investigating officer had already assumed that she must have sent those pictures to someone and now they were being posted, perhaps by a jilted lover. The line of questioning to Vinupriya was on those lines. When she was alone at home on June 27, she killed herself. The second photograph that had appeared on June 26, disappeared within hours of news of Vinupriya’s death becoming public. Proof, that the pervert was lurking somewhere close by or was part of Vinupriya’s friend circle.

CONCLUSION

With a detailed analysis of these topic we have conclude that the men have the responsibility to protect the people, the change is within them only. They will give the full respect to the women. Then only the percentage of crime against women will reduce. As per the Tamil song lyrics’ the thief have to change himself, then only the level of theft will reduce’ the enforcement law was not give a full remedy. As like that the stalkers should have to change themselves. Gandhiji said that” when the women walk freely at midnight without any fear then only it consider as freedom” but still it is not happened. So there is no complete freedom in the society for the women. Now a day’s some persons are saying women are empowered, they are doing all the work as like men. But this is not true, because they are doing all the work but there is no safety for the women at all. So there is no empowerment. There is no freedom, liberty and etc. When the women is freely walk in the society, freely doing all the works without any fear or any other disturbances then only it is amount to freedom.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberstalking.

[2] https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-cyberstalking-definition-examples.html.

[3] IBID.

[4] https://nordvpn.com/blog/cyberstalking/.

[5] https://nordvpn.com/blog/cyberstalking/.

[6] http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-214-cyber-stalking-challenges-in-regulating-cyberstalking-at-the-cyber-space.html.

[7] http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-214-cyber-stalking-challenges-in-regulating-cyberstalking-at-the-cyber-space.html.

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