Information Technology And Related Crime Criminology Essay

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The information technology is undergoing a rapid expansion with the new millennium fast approaching. The Internet and other telecommunications technologies are promoting advances in every part of the world: developing commerce, improving education and health care, promoting participatory democracy in the India and abroad, and facilitating communications among family and friends, whether across the street or around the world. Unfortunately, many of the attributes of this technology like low cost, ease of use, and anonymous nature, among others - make it an attractive medium for fraudulent scams, child sexual exploitation, and increasingly, a new concern known as "cyberstalking."

The nature and extent of the cyberstalking problem is difficult to measure. While some law enforcement agencies are responding aggressively, others are not aware of the problem and lack the knowledge and resources to pursue cyberstalking cases. Similarly, while some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have taken affirmative steps to crack down on cyberstalking, others have not and there is a big deal that industry can and should do to empower individuals to protect themselves against cyberstalking and other online threats.

Cyberstalking generally includes the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization. It may include false accusations, monitoring, making threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information in order to harass. The definition of "harassment" must meet the criterion that a reasonable person, in possession of the same information, would regard it as sufficient to cause another reasonable person distress.

What Is Cyberstalking?

Although there is no universally accepted definition of cyberstalking, the term is used to refer the use of the Internet, e-mail, or other electronic communications devices to stalk another person. Stalking generally involves harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person's home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person's property. It is one of the most talked about net crimes in the modern world. The Oxford dictionary defines stalking as "pursuing stealthily". Cyber stalking involves following a person's actions across the Internet by posting messages (sometimes threatening) on the bulletin boards frequented by the victim, entering the chat-rooms frequented by the victim, constantly bombarding the victim with emails etc

Many writers have adopted a relatively narrow definition of stalking, preferring to describe it only in terms of following or pursuit, for example by stating that "stalking behaviour typically consists of intrusive following of a 'target': for example, by placing one's self in front of the target's home, or other unexpected and unwelcome appearances in their private domain" [1] In a similar way, other writers have described how people tend to see stalking in terms of pursuit, for instance: "As a concept stalking possesses sinister and threatening connotations. It implies being hunted and harassed, whilst powerless and unable to stop a relentless and threatening pursuit". [2] 

Most stalking laws necessitate that the perpetrator make a credible threat of violence against the victim; others include threats against the victim's immediate family; and still others require only that the alleged stalker's course of conduct constitute an implied threat. [3] While some conduct involving annoying or menacing behavior might fall short of illegal stalking, such behavior may be a prelude to stalking and violence and should be treated seriously.

Nature and Extent of Cyberstalking

Although online harassment and threats can take many forms, cyberstalking shares important characteristics with offline stalking. Many stalkers - online or off - are provoked by a wish to exert control over the victims and engage in similar types of behavior to accomplish this end. As with offline stalking, the available evidence (which is largely anecdotal) suggests that the majority of cyberstalkers are men and the majority of their victims are women, although there have been reported cases of women cyber-stalking men and of same-sex cyberstalking. In many cases, the cyberstalker and the victim had a prior relationship, and the cyberstalking begins when the victim attempts to break off the relationship. However, there also have been many instances of cyberstalking by strangers. Given the enormous amount of personal information available through the Internet, a cyberstalker can easily locate private information of victim.

The fact that cyberstalking does not involve physical contact may generate the misperception that it is more benevolent than physical stalking. This is not necessarily true. As the Internet becomes an essential part of our personal and professional lives, stalkers can take benefit of the easiness of communications as well as increased access to personal information. In addition, the ease of use and non-confrontational, impersonal, and sometimes anonymous nature of Internet communications may remove disincentives to cyberstalking. Put other way, whereas a potential stalker may be unwilling or unable to confront a victim in person or on the telephone, he or she may have little hesitation sending harassing or threatening electronic communications to a victim. Lastly, as with physical stalking, online harassment and threats may be a prologue to more serious behavior including physical violence.

Offline vs. Online Stalking - A Comparison [4] 

Major Similarities 

Majority of cases involve stalking by former intimates, although stranger stalking occurs in the real world and in cyberspace. 

Most victims are women; most stalkers are men. 

Stalkers are generally aggravated by the desire to control the victim. 

Major Differences 

Offline stalking generally requires the perpetrator and the victim to be situated in the same geographic area; cyberstalkers may be found across the street or across the country. 

Electronic communications technologies make it much easier for a cyberstalker to encourage third parties to harass and/or threaten a victim (e.g., impersonating the victim and posting inflammatory messages to bulletin boards and in chat rooms, causing viewers of that message to send threatening messages back to the victim "author.") 

Electronic communications technologies also lower the barriers to harassment and threats; a cyberstalker does not need to physically confront the victim.

While there are many similarities between offline and online stalking, the Internet and other communications technologies provide new avenues for stalkers to pursue their victims.

A cyberstalker may send repeated, threatening, or harassing messages by clicking single button; more elegant cyberstalkers use programs to send messages at regular or random intervals without being physically present at the computer workstation. In addition, a cyberstalker can fool other Internet users into harassing or threatening a victim by utilising Internet bulletin boards or chat rooms. For example, a stalker may post a controversial or enticing message on the board under the name, phone number, or e-mail address of the victim, resulting in subsequent responses being sent to the victim. Each message- whether from the actual cyberstalker or others- will have the intended effect on the victim, but the cyberstalker's effort is least and the lack of direct contact between the cyberstalker and the victim makes it difficult for law enforcement to identify, locate, and arrest the offender.

Both kinds of Stalkers: Online & Offline - have desire to control the victims life. Majority of the stalkers are the disheartened lovers or ex-lovers, who then want to harass the victim because they failed to fulfill their secret desires. The anonymity of the Internet provides new opportunities for would-be cyberstalkers. A cyberstalker's true identity can be hidden by using different ISPs and/or by adopting different screen names. More experienced stalkers can use anonymous remailers that make it all-but-impossible to determine the true identity of the source of an e-mail or other electronic communication. A number of law enforcement agencies report they currently are confronting cyberstalking cases involving the use of anonymous remailers.

Anonymity leaves the cyberstalker in an advantageous position. The perpetrator could be in another state, around the corner, or in the next cubicle at work. He could be a former friend or lover, a total stranger met in a chat room, or simply a teenager playing a practical joke. The inability to identify the source of the harassment or threats could be particularly threatening to a cyberstalking victim, and the veil of anonymity might encourage the perpetrator to continue these acts. In addition, some perpetrators, armed with the knowledge that their identity is unknown, might be more willing to pursue the victim at work or home, and the Internet can provide substantial information to this end. Numerous websites will provide personal information, including unlisted telephone numbers and detailed directions to a home or office. For a fee, other websites promise to provide social security numbers, financial data, and other personal information.

Cyberstalking - A Growing Problem

Although there is no comprehensive, nationwide data on the extent of cyberstalking in the United States or in India, some ISPs compile statistics on the number and types of complaints of harassment and/or threats involving their subscribers and individual law enforcement agencies have compiled helpful statistics. There is, moreover, a growing amount of subjective and informal evidence on the nature and extent of cyberstalking.

First, data on offline stalking may provide some insight into the scope of the cyberstalking problem. According to the most recent National Violence Against Women Survey, which defines stalking as referring to instances where the victim felt a high level of fear: [5] 

In the United States, one out of every 12 women (8.2 million) and one out of every 45 men (2 million) have been stalked at some time in their lives.

One percent of all women and 0.4 percent of all men were stalked during the preceding 12 months.

Women are far more likely to be the victims of stalking than men - nearly four out of five stalking victims are women. Men are far more likely to be stalkers - 87 percent of the stalkers identified by victims in the survey were men.

Women are twice as likely as men to be victims of stalking by strangers and eight times as likely to be victims of stalking by intimates.

In the United States, there are currently more than 80 million adults and 10 million children with access to the Internet. Assuming the proportion of cyberstalking victims is even a fraction of the proportion of persons who have been the victims of offline stalking within the preceding 12 months, there may be potentially tens or even hundreds of thousands of victims of recent cyberstalking incidents in the United States. [6] Although such a "back of the envelope" calculation is inherently uncertain and speculative (given that it rests on an assumption about very different populations), it does give a rough sense of the potential magnitude of the problem.

Second, unreliable evidence from law enforcement agencies shows that cyberstalking is a serious - and growing - problem. At the federal level, several dozen matters have been referred to U.S. Attorney's Offices for possible action. A number of these cases have been referred to state and local law enforcement agencies because the conduct does not appear to violate federal law.

In addition, some local law enforcement agencies are beginning to see cases of cyberstalking. The Computer Investigations and Technology Unit of the New York City Police Department estimates that almost 40 percent of the caseload in the unit involves electronic threats and harassment -- and virtually all of these have occurred in the past three or four years.

Lastly, as part of a large study on sexual discrimination of college women, researchers at the University of Cincinnati conducted a national telephone survey of 4,446 randomly selected women attending two- and four-year institutions of higher education. The study was conducted during the 1996-97 academic year. In this survey, a stalking incident was defined as a case in which a respondent answered positively when asked if someone had "repeatedly followed you, watched you, phoned, written, e-mailed, or communicated with you in other ways that seemed obsessive and made you afraid or concerned for your safety." The study found that 581 women (13.1 percent) were stalked and reported a total of 696 stalking incidents; Out of these 696 stalking incidents, 166 (24.7 percent) involved e-mail. Thus, 25 percent of stalking incidents among college women could be classified as involving cyberstalking. [7] 

How do they Operate

Cyber Stalking usually occurs with women, who are stalked by men, or children who are stalked by adult predators or pedophiles. Typically, the cyber stalker's victim is new on the web, and inexperienced with the rules of netiquette & Internet safety. Their main targets are the mostly females, children, emotionally weak or unstable, etc. It is believed that Over 75% of the victims are female. The motives behind cyber stalking have been divided in to four reasons, namely, for sexual harassment, for obsession for love, for revenge and hate and for ego and power trips. Cyber stalkers target and harass their victims via websites, chat rooms, discussion forums, open publishing websites (e.g. blogs and Indy media) and email. The availability of free email and website space, as well as the anonymity provided by these chat rooms and forums, has contributed to the increase of cyber stalking as a form of harassment. 

Collect all personal information about the victim such as name, family background, Telephone Numbers of residence and work place, daily routine of the victim, address of residence and place of work, date of birth etc. If the stalker is one of the acquaintances of the victim he can easily get this information. If stalker is a stranger to victim, he collects the information from the internet resources such as various profiles, the victim may have filled in while opening the chat or e-mail account or while signing an account with some website.

The stalker may post this information on any website related to sex-services or dating services, posing as if the victim is posting this information and invite the people to call the victim on her telephone numbers to have sexual services. Stalker even uses very filthy and obscene language to invite the interested persons.

People of all kind from nook and corner of the World, who come across this information, start calling the victim at her residence and/or work place, asking for sexual services or relationships.

Some stalkers subscribe the e-mail account of the victim to innumerable pornographic and sex sites, because of which victim starts receiving such kind of unsolicited e-mails.

Some stalkers keep on sending repeated e-mails asking for various kinds of favors or threaten the victim.

In online stalking the stalker can make third party to harass the victim.

Follow their victim from board to board. They "hangout" on the same BB's as their victim, many times posting notes to the victim, making sure the victim is aware that he/she is being followed. Many times they will "flame" their victim (becoming argumentative, insulting) to get their attention.

Stalkers will almost always make contact with their victims through email. The letters may be loving, threatening, or sexually explicit. He will many times use multiple names when contacting the victim.

Contact victim via telephone. If the stalker is able to access the victims telephon, he will many times make calls to the victim to threaten, harass, or intimidate them.

Track the victim to his/her home.

Case Laws

US Case

In the first successful prosecution under California's new cyberstalking law, prosecutors in the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office obtained a guilty plea from a 50-year-old former security guard who used the Internet to solicit the rape of a woman who discarded his romantic advances. The defendant started torturing his 28-year-old victim by impersonating her in various Internet chat rooms and online bulletin boards, where he posted, along with her telephone number and address, messages that she fantasized of being raped. On at least six occasions, sometimes in the middle of the night, men knocked on the woman's door saying they wanted to rape her. The former security guard pleaded guilty in April 1999 to one count of stalking and three counts of solicitation of sexual assault. He faces up to six years in prison. 

In another case, an honors graduate from the University of San Diego terrorized five female university students over the Internet for more than a year. The victims received hundreds of violent and threatening e-mails, sometimes receiving four or five messages a day. The graduate student, who has entered a guilty plea and faces up to six years in prison, told police he committed the crimes because he thought the women were laughing at him and causing others to laugh at him. In fact, the victims had never met him.

Indian Case [8] 

Ms. Ritu Kohli Case

There are a couple of reported cases, which speak of the position of the cyber stalking in India. Ritu Kohli Case, being India's first case of cyber stalking, was indeed an important revelation into the mind of the Indian cyber stalker. Manish Kathuria was recently arrested by the New Delhi Police.  He was stalking an Indian lady, Ms Ritu Kohli by illegally chatting on the Web site MIRC using her name. He used obscene and obnoxious language, and distributed her residence telephone number, inviting people to chat with her on the phone. As a result of which, Ritu kept getting obscene calls from everywhere, and people promptly talked dirty with her. In a state of shock, she called the Delhi police and reported the matter. For once, the police department did not waste time swinging into action, traced the culprit and slammed a case under Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code for outraging the modesty of Ritu Kohli.

In another case, an engineering and management graduate, facing prosecution in a dowry harassment case, was arrested by Delhi police for sending obscene e-mails in his wife's name to several persons. In June 2000, a man was arrested by the Delhi police for assuming the identify of his ex-employer's wife in a chat channel an encouraging others to telephone net. The victim who was getting obscene telephone calls at night from stranger made a complaint to the police.  The accused was then located 'on line' in the chat room under the identity of the, victim and later traced through the telephone number used by him to access the internet.

In other case [9] , Seema Khanna (32) of New Delhi received a series of e-mails from a man asking her to either pose in the nude for him or pay Rs 1 lakh to him. In her complaint to Delhi Police, the woman said she started receiving these mails in the third week of November. The accused threatened Khanna that he would put her morphed pictures on display at sex websites , along with her telephone number and address. He also allegedly threatened to put up these pictures in her neighbourhood in southwest Delhi.

"Initially, she ignored the mails , but soon she started receiving letters through post, repeating the same threat. She was forced to report the matter to the police," said an officer with cyber crime cell. Further, the accused mailed the woman her photographs. The woman claimed these were the same photographs which she had kept in her mail folder. The police said the accused had hacked her e-mail password which enabled him to access the pictures.

A preliminary inquiry into the complaint has revealed that the mails were sent to the victim from a cyber cafe in south Delhi. "We hope to trace the accused soon," said deputy commissioner of police (crime) Dependra Pathak.

The police feel the accused might be known to the victim as he seemed to know a lot about her.

The cyber stalker can be booked under Section 509 of the IPC for outraging the modesty of a woman and also under the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Recent Efforts to deal with Cyberstalking

Cyberspace has become a field for illegal activity. With new technology and equipment that cannot be policed by traditional methods, cyberstalking has replaced traditional methods of stalking and harassment. Police and prosecutors need to be aware of the increasing numbers of these events and develop strategies to resolve these problems through the criminal justice system. Though, it is a comparatively new challenge for many law enforcement agencies.

The first traditional stalking law was enacted by the state of California in 1990. Since then, some law enforcement agencies have trained their personnel on stalking and/or established specialized units to handle stalking cases. However, many agencies are still developing the expertise and resources to investigate and prosecute traditional stalking cases; only a few agencies throughout the country have focused attention or resources specifically on the cyberstalking problem. [10] 

Law enforcement response: awareness and training are key factors

Based on recent informal surveys of law enforcement agencies, it appears that the majority of agencies have not investigated or prosecuted any cyberstalking cases. However, some agencies - particularly those with units dedicated to stalking or computer crime offenses - have large cyberstalking caseloads. As noted above, the New York Police Department's Computer Investigation and Technology Unit and the Los Angeles District Attorney's Stalking and Threat Assessment Team estimate that 40 and 20 percent of their caseloads, respectively, involve cyberstalking-type cases.

The inconsistency in the activity level among law enforcement agencies can be attributed to a number of factors. Firstly, the majority of cyberstalking victims do not report the conduct to law enforcement, either because they feel that the conduct has not reached the point of being a criminal offense or that law enforcement will not take them seriously. Secondly, most law enforcement agencies have not had the training to identify the serious nature of cyberstalking and to investigate such offenses. In some instances, victims have been told by law enforcement agency simply to turn off their computers.

Law Enforcement: Lack of Training and Expertise Can Frustrate Victims, Hinder Response

A recent incident shows how the lack of law enforcement training and expertise can disturb cyberstalking victims. A woman complained to a local police agency that a man had been posting information on the web claiming that her nine-year-old daughter was available for sex. The web posting included their home phone number with instructions to call 24 hours a day. They received several calls. The couple reported the problem to the local police agency on numerous occasions, but the agency simply advised the couple to change their home phone number. Subsequently, the couple contacted the FBI, which opened an investigation. It was discovered that the local police agency did not have a computer expert, and the investigative officer had never been on the Internet. The local agency's lack of knowledge and resources may have resulted in a failure to understand the seriousness of the problem and the options available to law enforcement to respond to such problems.

Another indication that many law enforcement agencies take too lightly the magnitude of the cyberstalking problem is the wide disparity in reported cases in different jurisdictions across the country.

Law enforcement response: Jurisdictional and Statutory limitations may frustrate some agencies

State and local law enforcement agencies also have been frustrated by jurisdictional limitations. In many instances, the cyberstalker may be located in a different city or state than the victim making it more difficult for the local authority to investigate the incident. Even if a law enforcement agency is willing to pursue a case across state lines, it may be difficult to obtain support from out-of-state agencies when the conduct is limited to harassing e-mail messages and no actual violence has occurred.

The lack of adequate statutory authority can also limit law enforcement's response to cyberstalking incidents. In many cases, cyberstalking will involve threats to kill, kidnap, or injure the person, reputation, or property of another, either on or offline and, as such, may be prosecuted under other federal or state laws that do not relate directly to stalking.

Law enforcement response: the challenge of anonymity

Another difficulty for law enforcement is the presence of services that provide anonymous communications over the Internet. Anonymity provides important benefits, like protecting the privacy of Internet users. But cyberstalkers and other cyber criminals can exploit the anonymity available on the Internet to avoid accountability for their conduct. Anonymous services on the Internet come in one of two forms: the first allows individuals to create a free electronic mailbox through a web site. For these services, payment is generally made in advance through the use of a money order or other non-traceable form of payment. As long as payment is received in advance by the ISP, the service is provided to the unknown account holder. The second form comprises mail servers that purposefully strip identifying information and transport headers from electronic mail. By forwarding mails through several of these services serially, a stalker can nearly perfectly anonymise the message. The existence of such services makes it comparatively simple to send anonymous communications, while making it difficult for victims, providers, and law enforcement to identify the person or persons responsible for transmitting harassing or threatening communications over the Internet.

Law enforcement response: specialized units show promise in combating cyberstalking

A growing number of law enforcement agencies are recognizing the serious nature and extent of cyberstalking and taking aggressive action to respond. Some larger metropolitan areas, such as New Delhi and Mumbai, have seen number of incidents of cyberstalking and have specialized units available to investigate and prosecute these cases. In addition, this specialized unit is given proper resources, such as adequate computer hardware and advanced training, which is essential in investigating and prosecuting these technical cases. This unit provides regular training for police officers and prosecutors regarding the intricacies of cyberstalking investigations and prosecutions. The training includes understanding how chat rooms operate, how to find and preserve electronic evidence, and how to draft search warrants and subpoenas. These units do not focus on cyberstalking alone, but they have the necessary expertise in computers and the Internet to assist in the investigation of cyberstalking when it arises.

As compared to United States, India is still far behind in dealing with the problems of cyber crime due to lack of inadequate knowledge and poverty. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has Computer Crime Squads throughout the country, as well as the National Infrastructure Protection Center in Washington, to ensure that cyber crimes are properly investigated. Further, they have Computer Analysis and Response Teams to conduct forensics examinations on seized magnetic media. Similarly, in 1996 the Justice Department established the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section within the Criminal Division. These units have highly trained personnel who remain on the cutting edge of new technology and investigative techniques. In addition, each U.S. Attorney's office contains experienced computer crime prosecutors. These individuals - Computer and Telecommunications Coordinators - assist in the investigation and prosecution of a wide variety of computer crimes, including cyberstalking. In addition, at the state level, several attorneys general have established special divisions that focus on computer crimes.

Even though high-tech expertise is necessary, police and prosecutors have developed other strategies for helping victims of cyberstalking. A critical step in fighting cyberstalking is understanding stalking in general. In several cases, cyberstalking is simply another phase in an overall stalking pattern, or it is regular stalking behavior using new, high-technology tools. Thus, strategies and techniques that have been developed to combat stalking in general frequently can be adapted to cyberstalking situations. Fortunately, many state and local law enforcement agencies have begun to focus on stalking, and some have developed special task forces to deal with this problem.

Cyberstalking is expected to increase as computers and the Internet become more popular. Therefore, law enforcement at all levels must become more sensitive to cyberstalking complaints and offer the necessary training and resources to allow proper investigation and prosecution. By becoming technologically expert and understanding stalking in general, agencies will be better equipped to respond to cyberstalking incidents in their jurisdictions. Finally, law enforcement must become more sensitive to the fear and frustration experienced by cyberstalking victims. Proper training should help in this regard, but law enforcement at all levels should take the next step and place special emphasis on this problem. Computers and the Internet are becoming indispensable parts of India's culture, and cyberstalking is a growing threat. Responding to a victim's complaint by saying "just turn off your computer" is not acceptable.

Industry efforts

Although the Internet industry has tried to fight abusive electronic communications overall, the industry as a whole has not addressed cyberstalking in particular. According to a review conducted as part of the preparation of the report, most major ISPs have established an address to which complaints of abusive or harassing electronic mail can be sent (generally, this address is 'abuse@[the ISP's domain]' - for example, "[email protected]". In addition, these providers almost uniformly have provisions in their online agreements specifically prohibiting abusive or harassing conduct through their service and providing that violations of the policy will result in termination of the account.

In practice, however, ISPs have focused more on support their customers in avoiding annoying online behavior, such as receiving unsolicited commercial electronic mail ("spamming") or large amounts of electronic mail intentionally sent to an individual ("mail-bombing"); relatively less attention has been paid to helping victims of cyberstalking or other electronic threats. For some ISPs, the measures for lodging complaints of online harassment or threats were difficult to locate, and their policies about what does or does not constitute a violation of service agreements were generally unhelpful. In addition, many ISPs do not notify their customers about what steps, if any, the ISP has taken to follow-up on their customer's complaint. These problems: hard to locate complaint procedures, unclear policies about what does and does not constitute prohibited harassment, and insufficient follow-up on complaints - may pose serious obstacles to cyberstalking victims who need help.

Online industry associations respond that providing such protection to their customers is costly and complicated. Although they recognize that larger ISPs have begun to commit resources to dealing with harassment online, they warn that the costs of imposing additional reporting or response obligations upon ISPs may make it difficult for small or entrepreneurial ISPs to continue providing service at competitive rates.

Accordingly, the evidence of the scope of the cyberstalking problem is likely to remain for the forseeable future defined primarily by anecdotal evidence, with no basis to determine whether the phenomenon is growing, static, or declining.

Industry efforts: cooperation with law enforcement

Both industry and law enforcement benefit when Internet crime is reduced. In particular, the Internet industry benefits significantly whenever citizen and consumer confidence and trust in the Internet is increased. Accordingly, both industry and law enforcement know the need to cooperate more fully with one another in this area. Moreover, closer cooperation between law enforcement and industry will help to ensure that law enforcement officers know who at the ISPs to call and how to proceed when they receive a complaint, and ISPs have a contact in law enforcement when they receive a complaint that warrants intervention by law enforcement.

Adequacy of Existing Laws

Even though Chapter XI of the IT Act, 2000 deals with the offences such as Tampering with computer source documents (s.65), Hacking with computer system (s.66), publishing of information which is obscene in electronic form (s.67) Access to protected system(s70), Breach of confidentiality and privacy(s. 72), Publication for fraudulent purpose(s.74) IT Act 2000 still needs to be modified. It does not mention any crime specifically as against women and children.

The basic problems, which are associated with Cyber-Crimes, are Jurisdiction, Loss of evidence, Lack of cyber army and Cyber savy judges who are the need of the day. Judiciary plays a vital role in shaping the enactment according to the order of the day. One such stage, which needs appreciation, is the P.I.L., which the Kerela high Court has accepted through an email. Today with the growing arms of cyberspace the growing arms of cyberspace the territorial boundaries seems to vanish thus the concept of territorial jurisdiction as envisaged under S.16 of C.P.C. and S.2.of the I.P.C. will have to give way to alternative method of dispute resolution.

Again, under no section in IT ACT 2000, Obscenity - personal viewing - is an offence, infact like in IPC 292 again if it is proved that you have published or transmitted or caused to be published in the electronic form only then under Section 67 it can be an offence. Lastly, the IT Act 2000 does not mention the typical cyber crimes like cyber stalking, morphing and email spoofing as offences. 


General recommendations

The law enforcement community, private industry, victims help providers, and individuals must identify that cyberstalking is a serious problem not only as a potential precursor to offline threats and violence, but also as a serious attack of an increasingly important aspect of people's everyday lives. At the same time, it is significant to note that many forms of annoying and menacing activity on the Internet do not rise to the level of illegal activity and are properly addressed by individuals and service providers without recourse to law enforcement channels.

The lack of absolute data on the nature and extent of cyberstalking makes it difficult to develop effective response strategies. Future surveys and research studies on stalking should, where possible, include specific information on cyberstalking. Industry organizations can and should play a role not only in increasing the amount of data on the cyberstalking problem, but also ensuring that the data can be analyzed in a meaningful way.

Legislative recommendations

States should evaluate their existing stalking and other statutes to determine whether they address cyberstalking and, if not, promptly expand such laws to address cyberstalking.

Although law enforcement agencies should retain primary jurisdiction over cyberstalking cases, federal law should be amended to address gaps in existing law where the conduct involves interstate or foreign communications. Such legislation should prohibit the transmission of any communication in interstate or foreign commerce with intention to threaten or harass another person where such communication places another in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury. Enhanced penalties should be available where the victim is a minor. Such legislation should be technology neutral and should apply to all forms of communication technologies.

Recommendations for law enforcement and criminal justice officials

Law enforcement agencies require training on the nature and extent of the cyberstalking problem, including definite training on the legal tools available to address the problem, the need for, and effectiveness of, prompt action by law enforcement agencies, the most successful techniques to investigate and prosecute cyberstalking crimes, and the resources available to cyberstalking victims.

Law enforcement agencies and courts need to recognize the serious nature of cyberstalking, including the close links between offline and online stalking.

Law enforcement agencies should use mechanisms for fast and constantly sharing information about cyberstalking incidents with other law enforcement agencies, thereby making it less likely that a cyberstalker can continue threatening behavior simply because neither the jurisdiction of the sender nor the jurisdiction of the victim believes that it can prosecute the offender.

Law enforcement agencies with existing stalking or computer crime units should consider expanding the mission of such units to include cyberstalking, and law enforcement agencies that do not presently have a stalking section should consider expanding their capabilities to address this issue. At the last, law enforcement agencies should understand the patterns underlying stalking in general and be prepared to respond and intercede on behalf of cyberstalking victims.

Law enforcement agencies should work more closely with victim groups to recognize cyberstalking patterns and victims' experiences and to encourage cyberstalking victims to report incidents to law enforcement authorities.

Recommendations for the Internet and electronic communications industry

The Internet and electronic communications industry should --

Cooperate fully with law enforcement when investigating cyberstalking complaints. The industry can do this by directly freezing and retaining data for law enforcement use on any potential cyberstalking case.

Set up best business practices to deal with illicit activity by terminating holders of fraudulent accounts or Sponsor an Internet Security and Law Enforcement Council of ISPs and other members of the Internet community to develop and promote industry best business practices relating to security and law enforcement issues (including cyberstalking), develop and distribute training materials for law enforcement on the investigation and prosecution of Internet crime, and encourage more effective communication and cooperation between industry and law enforcement in combating online criminal activity.

Create an industry-supported website containing all the information on cyberstalking and what is to be done if confronted with this problem. Contact information for the chief ISPs should be included so that Internet users can easily report cyberstalking cases after visiting this centralized resource. This situation could be implemented by expanding the "One Click Away" scheme or through a complementary but separate initiative focused on cyberstalking.

Develop additional means to allow individuals to protect themselves from cyberstalking. Such means might include more reachable and effective filtering and blocking options. While some major ISPs already allow such options, others do not.

Create and enforce clear & unambiguous policies that forbid cyberstalking and related behaviors, as well as the termination of accounts for persons who violate such policies. While it appears that most of the larger ISPs have such policies, some smaller ISPs do not. Representatives from the Internet industry should consider establishing an industry-wide code of conduct that encourages all ISPs to adopt such procedures.

Develop training materials planned specifically to help law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of cyberstalking and associated crimes. For example, a short training video could be developed to increase consciousness of the cyberstalking problem and to provide law enforcement officers with essential information on how to work with ISPs and others in the investigation of cyberstalking cases.

Create clear and understandable procedures for individuals - both customers and non-customers - to register complaints about individuals using the company's service to engage in cyberstalking. Such procedures should be easily available to individuals.

Develop and widely distribute educational materials to customers and others on how to protect them online.

Recommendations for victim service providers and advocates

Victim service providers and advocates should-

Provide direct services and referrals to existing resources that are specifically designed to assist victims of cyberstalking, or stalking in general where cyberstalking services are not available, and work to ensure that cyberstalking services are expanded to meet the needs of victims and enhance their safety;

Serve as catalysts in community efforts to form partnerships among law enforcement, prosecution, the judiciary, the medical community and other community allies to address the specific safety needs of cyberstalking victims and hold offenders accountable for their actions

Name the actions as cyberstalking and validate that a crime is occurring when working with individual victims;

Train domestic violence and other victim service providers and advocates on Internet technology, the strategy used by cyberstalkers, and how to respond to the specific needs of cyberstalking victims;

Raise public awareness about the devastating impact on cyberstalking victims of the tactics used by cyberstalkers and the steps that can be taken to prevent and combat this crime.

Prevention Tips 

Develop and widely distribute educational materials to customers and others on how to protect them online.

Be extremely cautious about meeting online acquaintances in person. If you choose to meet, do so in a public place and take along a friend. 

Do not share personal information in public spaces anywhere online, nor give it to strangers, including in e-mail or chat rooms. Do not use the real name or nickname as your screen name or user ID. Do not post personal information as part of any user profiles. 

Make sure that the ISP and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) network have an acceptable use policy that prohibits cyberstalking.

If a situation online becomes hostile, log off or surf elsewhere. If a situation places you in fear, contact a local law enforcement agency. 


Indeed, recent trends and evidence suggest that cyberstalking is a serious problem that will grow in scope and complexity as more people take advantage of the Internet and other telecommunications technologies. The analysis and recommendations contained in this Seminar Report offer a framework for an initial response to the problem. These recommendations, however, are only a first step. Important advances can be made if industry, law enforcement, victims service providers and support groups, and others work together to develop a more comprehensive and effective response to this problem.

Although there is no universally accepted definition of cyberstalking, still it can be defined as the repeated acts harassment or threatening behavior of the cyber criminal towards the victim by using internet services. But due to the lack of a statutory definition the basic challenge is to create a definition of cyber stalking that can meet the needs of a wide range of stakeholders. Law enforcement agencies want to catch cyber stalkers, ISPs want customers to feel safe using their services, clinicians want to treat cyber stalkers, researchers want to explain the nature of cyber stalking, and victims want to be protected. However, although all of these objectives are important, an emphasis needs to be placed on protecting victims.