Use of Technology to Stalk

Technology has provided stalkers with additional tools to electronically stalk and harass their victims and added new dimensions to the impact of this crime on victims. This use of technology by stalkers for such purposes is sometimes referred to as "cyberstalking." For example:

 

  • Stalkers can use hidden cameras to watch their victims or global positioning systems (GPS) to track victims (Stalking Resource Center);
  • "Spy phone" software programs and devices that utilize GPS allow stalkers to monitor victims' cell phone conversations and text messages;
  • Software is available that enables stalkers to remotely access victims' computers and know their every keystroke or each website they visited;
  • Stalkers can post comments and pictures about victims on message boards or social networking sites;
  • Stalkers can fill victims' e-mail with spam or send a virus or other damaging programs to victims' computers; and
  • Stalkers can easily and legally obtain public information about victims through online searches, such as phone and address listings, court records, property records, subscriptions, etc. (Stalking Resource Center). That information might later be used to gain access to victims' homes, pets, families and/or friends.

A West Virginia law specifically addresses this form of stalking is §61-3C-14a-c of the West Virginia Computer Crime and Abuse Act.

 

  • §61-3C-14a addresses obscene, anonymous, harassing, and threatening communications (against any person) by computer, cell phones and electronic communication devices.
  • §61-3C-14b addresses soliciting, etc. a minor via computer to engage the minor in prohibited sexual activity.
  • §61-3C-14c defines and establishes in West Virginia the crime of cyberbullying (specific acts of electronic harassment of minors and others), to be known as “Grace’s Law.” The WV law is modeled after legislative bills/laws in other states and named after Grace McComas, a 15-year old Maryland teen who took her life after experiencing cyberbullying.

For more details on these laws, go to the website section, Laws, WV Related Laws: Cyberstalking.

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