Cyberstalking is stalking or harassment that has been done online. It is a form of mental hurt given by a person to another person. In cyber stalking there is no direct communication and most of the time the victims don't realize that they are being stalked online. The offender stalks the victim through various methods and steals the data of the victim. Not only this the offender can steal the personal data online can use it to blackmail the victim in offline mode.
Types of Cyber Stalking –
· E-mail Stalking
One of the most common forms of stalking in which the offender sends emails to the victims in which various prizes are offered in exchange for a victim's personal data. This data is used to threaten, blackmail and infect the data of the victim.
· Internet Stalking
Here, the offender uses the internet to slander the victims. It is used to publically harass someone with slangs, death threats and hate. This form of stalking is the most useful in today's time.
· Computer Stalking
In this, the offender attacks the operating system of the victim's computer. This is done to corrupt the data or to steal the data. It is done in the operating systems of important institutions to disrupt their activities.
The stalker can assume control of the victim's computer and the only defensive option for the victim is to disconnect and relinquish their current Internet address. The situation is like discovering that anytime you pick up the phone, a stalker is on-line and in control of your phone.
Why Cyber Stalking is done?
The main objective of the offender is to harass the victim through any medium.
The offender is in love with the victim but the victim doesn't like him. Hence in order to take revenge for the perceived betrayal, the offender uses the Cyber zone to harass the victim.
This is a result of the denial of the proposal. It happens when the offender's proposal is denied. Hence in the heat of the moment revenge becomes one of the reasons for Cyber Stalking.
Kinds of Stalkers –
· Normal obsessional
In this type, the victim and the offender have a prior relationship. The main intention of the offender is to coerce or to re-enter the relationship.
· Affection obsessional
The offender has great affection or love towards the victim and it is mostly one sided. Also at times the offender has never accepted that he was denied by his lover.
The stalker here possesses the delusion of being in love with a person, even when there is evidence to the contrary.
Punishment for Cyber Stalking –
· Section 354 D of the Indian Penal Code – specifically prescribes the act of stalking as
Whoever follows a person and contacts, or attempts to contact such person to foster personal interaction repeatedly, despite a clear indication of disinterest by such person, or whoever, monitors the use by a person of the Internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, or watches or spies on a person in a manner that results in a fear of violence or serious alarm or distress in the mind of such person, or interferes with the mental peace of such person, commits the offence of stalking.
· Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code – The section has bailed out those acts of stalking which are performed for the purpose of preventing and detecting crime by a person who has been entrusted with such responsibility by the state. Also, instances where pursuing such conduct was reasonable or where the person was authorized under any act cannot allude to the offence of stalking.
· The Information Act, 2008 –
The IT Act of 2008 does not directly deal with the offence of stalking.
Section 72 of the Act is used to deal with the offence of stalking which reads as follows: Any person who, in pursuant of any of the powers conferred under this Act, rules or regulations made thereunder, has
secured access to any electronic record, book, register, correspondence, information, document or other material
without the consent of the person concerned
discloses such electronic record, book, register, correspondence, information, document or other material to any other person shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both.
Section 67 prohibits and punishes with imprisonment extending up to three years and fine for the first conviction and to five years and fine upon a second conviction, the publication, transmission and causing of transmission of obscene content.
Section 67A has culled out a special category called material containing a 'sexually explicit act'. The publication, transmission or causing of transmission of such material is punishable with imprisonment extending up to five years and fine for a first conviction and to seven years and fine upon a second conviction.
These things must be made into consideration to tackle this problem –
· As cybercrimes are committed in a virtual world, it becomes difficult to collect evidence against the offender. So, do not immediately delete the photos, mails, or any other information sent by the stalker as this can help the investigators to trace the trail of his online activities and track him.
· Cyberstalkers can easily hide evidence of their online activity, so preserving his evidence via printouts or screenshots can come very handy.
· Report the incident to the website in question.
· File a First Information Report to enable commencement of the investigation of cybercrime.