While more and more people use technology to better their lives, there are some notorious perpetrators that often take advantage of their digital anonymity to harass other users. A Tinder date gone wrong is all it might take for you to become a victim of online harassment. We might have read about countless cases where women were stalked and harassed digitally by strangers from their social media contacts. So, before we go on more about how technology has made us more vulnerable to being bullied, let’s discuss about digital harassment in brief.
Digital Harassment, Cyberstalking – what would you name it?
Digital Harassment is a form of bullying which is done online using cell phones, social networks or other communication devices or websites. It is also known as Cyber Harassment, Online Harassment or Cyberbullying.
Cyberstalking on the other hand refers to the crime of using the Internet, email or other types of electronic communications to stalk, harass, or threaten another person. This involves sending harassing emails, instant or text messages, social media posts, identity theft, false accusations for the sole purpose of tormenting the victim.
Internet and its related technologies offer great potential for connecting with everyone all around the world. With all these advantages comes a scary, dark underbelly of the Internet.
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What is the purpose for developing these applications?
Tracking Apps and devices can turn anyone’s phone into a bugging device worthy of the CIA.
Some companies develop tracking apps with 3 reasons:
- To keep a check on the movements of your children.
- To track your family members safe return from office or a party.
- To track your phone or car if it gets stolen or lost.
On the other hand, some companies have actually developed tracking and hacking apps to help people spy on others other phones, their day to day movements, their location in short, their personal lives.
Some apps market themselves as ‘helpers’ that spy on people without needing access or possession of their victims. A mere phone number or email id is all it takes. Such apps are also enabled with ‘Stealth mode’.
These invasive apps virtual spying is on par as any government or law enforcement agency one could think of. They gather text messages, social media messages, GPS locations, calls, control camera and microphones, pictures and every data that is on a phone.
The market flourishes with many Tracking and Spying Applications both for Android and IoS.
We won’t list any apps that track or spy. The boon of Technology is turning into a Bane.
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What are the Stats of such cases and Laws protecting people?
As our dependency increases on technology, Government and Law Enforcement agencies are continuously monitoring these criminal acts, to find a solution to deter criminals from engaging in this crime of harassment, fear and intimidation.
- The majority of victims are in the age group of 18 and 29 years.
- Women form up to 60% of the victims.
- In 70% cyberstalking cases, the victim and perpetrator belong to different states.
- 50% of the perpetrators were turned out to be the victim’s ex.
Opera Singer Leandra Ramm has been a victim of cyberstalking for over a decade. In recent times, Jennifer Lawrence faced a nasty shock, when her nude photos were stolen from her cell and posted all over the internet.
Government procedures aren’t quite successful in trying to apprehend the cyber bullies because of many reasons.
- They are expensive and invasive, with lack of knowledge and databases.
- The fear of being shamed, shunned and judged by the public leads to very few reports being logged.
- The development and reformation of laws is comparatively slower than the rapid growth of technology.
In a speech at the University of Maryland, Prof. Danielle Citron of Francis King Carey School of Law, mentioned that a mere 3 or 4 cases in America, where victims were awarded monetary justice.
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Tort Law or Civil Wrongs
Based on this law, victims can approach the civil court to complain about the kinds of cyber-attacks they have faced which range from staking to online bullying to revenge porn.
Federal Cyberstalking laws have been in place since 2011.
California was the first state to implement Stalking laws. In 1999, it amended its law to include cyberstalking. Victims of California, Illinois and Massachusetts could press criminal charges against their stalkers, with the power of target cyber stalking and harassment laws.
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Who is going to take Responsibility of this Security Violation?
Who is responsible for the security and safety of people against such crimes? It seems to be a rather long wait for reformation in the smartphone application policies, so that it doesn’t permit any app to run in the stealth way or illegal access on any smartphone.
The prime motive for development of technology is to help the humanity. Then how can the Tracking Technology which on one hand is so useful, is turning into a Red Alert for our Society?
In words of Mr. Jeh Charles Johnson, an American Civil and Criminal Lawyer, who was also the fourth United States Secretary of Homeland Security 2013 to 2017 –
“Cybersecurity is a Shared Responsibility, and it boils down to this: In Cybersecurity, The More Systems We Secure, The More Secure We All Are.”
To fight this enormous and fast spreading monster of Cyber Crime, Government Agencies, Lawmakers, Technology Geeks and common people need to come together. Act fast before this monster sinks in his claws even deeper.