What is Cyberstalking?
Cyberstalking is the process of harassing another individual through the means of technology and electronic communication. Such harassment can take place through the usage of mobile phones, the internet, emails and other electronic communication. It can be difficult to prove that another individual committed the action if they successfully avail of anonymity on the web but with the right support, actions can be taken. The primary aim of the majority of cyberstalkers is to cause psychological and emotional damage to their victim. Their actions can however, extend to the family, friends and partners of their victim as well. Cyberstalking is a serious issue and can have dire effects.
Examples of actions that could be construed as cyberstalking include:
- Publishing intimate photographs of their victim on the internet,
- Sexual harassment through online communication or phone calls,
- Writing insulting comments / lies about their victim and spreading them around the internet,
- Creating false online profiles of their victim in order to spread defamatory statements.
- Offensive messages through platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and other forms of social media.
Spreading lies about their victims can damage the name of that person and may have a big impact on their daily life. If you have been the victim of such cyberstalking offences make sure to contact our firm to find out your options.
How is Cyberstalking Regulated?
Stalking and cyberstalking are regulated under German law by § 238 German Criminal Code. Although the passage may have primarily considered more traditional forms of stalking, it does make sure to reference “trying to establish contact with the other person by means of telecommunications or other means of communication…” which can be seen as referring to cyberstalking. Other elements of cyberstalking such as online threats (§ 241 German Criminal Code), defamation (§ 187 German Criminal Code) and insults (§ 185 German Criminal Code) are also provided for under the German Criminal Code.
The law provides for punishments such as restraining orders, fines and in some cases imprisonment. Which sanction is provided will depend on the facts of the case. Make sure you have a criminal law attorney in your corner should your cyberstalking case be of a serious nature.
Identifying the Suspected Stalkers
When it comes to stalking and cyberstalking, it can appear to be difficult to identify the perpetrators. This is especially the case when the person in question has hidden well. However, it is worth pointing out that the vast majority of perpetrators are known to the victim and, in many cases, known quite well. In numerous cases, the suspect is a former partner, and it is not unusual for them to be the offender. Discussing your suspicions with professionals may help to resolve the issue.
In terms of concrete steps taken, it can prove difficult for the perpetrators to cover all aspects of their identity online. Identifying IP addresses and locating the computer in question through this means is one approach that can be taken. Our legal team will provide further advice on steps that can be taken upon direct communication with us.
What Actions can I take Against Cyberstalking?
To help our lawyers, you must keep the evidence if possible. This may mean screenshotting the images you have received, taking photos, recording their phone calls, and saving the emails or messages that come in. Make sure to take a note of the time, date and other details involved. Whatever phone number they have used to send the messages should be saved and kept in a safe place. Should you suffer from anxiety-related sleep disorders or have other effects make sure to obtain medical certificates. This advice is particularly vital when it comes to bringing any case to court.
However, when it comes to protecting yourself online, following these steps are advisable:
- Use firewall and virus protection,
- Make sure the passwords you use are difficult to crack (research common passwords and avoid them),
- Do not give your passwords to third parties,
- Change your password regularly but also keep it difficult and avoid the common passwords,
- Ensure that you log out of websites / social media accounts (this is particularly important on public computers such as in libraries or internet cafés),
- Contact a lawyer should you find that cyberstalking is taking place.
As can be seen, there are many steps that the victim can take against cyberstalking. However, this offence should not be tolerated, and availing of legal counsel can help ensure that it won’t be. Our criminal law team will ensure that you know what actions you can take to ensure justice prevails.
If you feel threatened by the cyberstalker, please contact and alert the police to the matter. Cyberstalkers can be dangerous individuals.
What is the Aim of the Cyberstalker?
The cyberstalker, like other stalkers, usually seeks to attract the attention of their victim and then harass them so that they get a feeling of control over their victim’s life. As stated earlier, many cyberstalking cases involve former partners or other people closely linked to the victim. When the perpetrator is a former partner or a rejected suitor, the motive can concern revenge, hurt feelings, injured pride, anger and generally misogyny (in female victims). They aim to make the lives of their victims miserable as a way of recompensating for how they feel themselves. Such actions may grant them a feeling of power over their victim. Offenders are not exclusively male (but are the majority) and are of all age ranges.
In comparison to other crimes, the aim of the stalker is very personal. Usually, any financial gain is secondary to the ability to make life difficult for the victim. Many offences linked to cyberstalking are vindictive in nature.
Lawyers for Stalking in Germany
Although this page has focused primarily on cyberstalking, we also provide our services for more traditional forms of stalking. These actions can have a similar impact on their victims as the aim of harassment and discomforting of the victim remains the same. Cyberstalking is becoming a more popular form of stalking with the rise in internet usage, but cases involving traditional stalking are still around. In those cases, the victims should avail themselves of legal guidance and counsel. In serious cases, and especially where they feel in danger, they should contact the police.
Behaviour that can be indicative of stalking include the following:
- unsolicited phone calls,
- following the person during their daily life (work, social activities, meeting people etc.),
- sending unwanted gifts and presents,
- contacting them through other parties,
- damaging property,
- trespassing on the property,
- filling out documents, subscriptions, online purchases in the victim’s name (supplying their contact details/address).
Such actions can be the start of something more dangerous. Therefore, it is vital to discuss the issue with friends and family. Should you need to take further steps, it is advisable to contact the police should the situation be in danger of escalating. Furthermore, a criminal law attorney will provide you with the assistance you need to pursue further options.