File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Cyber Stalking: A Digital Shadow of Harassment

Cyber stalking involves pervasive digital harassment by invading a victim's privacy and constantly monitoring their movements. This intrusion can induce fear, intimidation, and a profound sense of violation.

Traditionally, stalking is perceived as an offline phenomenon. However, its virtual counterpart, cyberstalking, is equally prevalent and detrimental, mirroring offline concerns. Its widespread occurrence is alarming and can cause significant distress and life disruptions for victims.

Unlike conventional stalking, cyberstalking often targets females by male perpetrators or children by adult predators. Cyberstalkers exploit the lack of physical proximity to harass their victims remotely.

Cyberstalkers come from diverse backgrounds, regardless of location, gender, or connection to the victim, including neighbours or family members.

5Victims of cyberstalking are often internet novices, lacking knowledge of online safety measures and proper etiquette. Women, children, and individuals with emotional vulnerabilities are particularly susceptible, with females comprising a staggering 75% of reported cases. However, underreporting biases make it difficult to determine the true extent of this problem, similar to estimating the size of an iceberg based solely on its visible portion.

Faces of Cyberstalkers

Cyber stalkers exhibit diverse motives and psychological profiles, presenting a multifaceted challenge. While these categories can overlap, recognizing their unique characteristics is crucial for identifying and mitigating the risks they pose.
  • The Common Obsessional Cyber Stalker: Obsessed with the idea of a rekindled relationship, these stalkers pursue their victims relentlessly. Despite their harmless appearance, they can inflict significant emotional distress on their targets. Commonly driven by a false belief in the victim's reciprocation, they refuse to accept the end of a relationship.
  • The Delusional Cyber Stalker: Characterized by mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, delusional stalkers hold unshakeable false beliefs about their victims. Convinced of an unrequited love, they target individuals like married women, celebrities, or professionals in helping roles. Their persistence and often unpredictable behaviour make them particularly challenging to deter.
  • The Vengeful Cyber Stalker: Fuelled by intense anger or perceived grievances, these stalkers seek revenge for perceived wrongs. Personal disputes, ex-spouses, or disgruntled employees often fall into this category. Their actions are driven by a desire to retaliate and cause harm to their targets.
  • Overlapping Characteristics: While these categories are distinct, they often overlap. Obsessional stalkers may exhibit delusions, and vengeful stalkers may have obsessive tendencies. Understanding these overlapping characteristics can help individuals recognize the multifaceted nature of cyber stalking and develop effective strategies to address the threats posed by these individuals.

Types of Cyber Stalking:

  • Online-Only Harassment: This form of harassment involves persistent, unwelcome communications through emails, messages, and social media. It remains confined to the digital sphere.
  • Online Harassment Transitioning Offline: Here, the harassment extends beyond the internet. Stalkers may attempt to locate victims' phone numbers or addresses, potentially posing a physical threat. Sharing personal information online requires extreme caution. This emphasizes the importance of being mindful when sharing personal details online.

  1. Sexual Harassment: Cyberstalking is often driven by a desire to sexually harass victims. This directly states the motivation behind cyberstalking, highlighting the connection to real-world harassment. The anonymity of the internet allows cyberstalkers to exploit their victims with relative impunity.
  2. Obsession for Love: Driven by rejection in online relationships, obsession stalkers resort to harassment to regain control. Sometimes, this obsession originates offline before transitioning to the digital realm.
  3. Revenge and Hate: Arguments or conflicts can escalate into hate-fueled vendettas, resulting in revenge stalking. This can be triggered by perceived offenses online or chosen at random by the stalker.
  4. Ego and Power Trips: Some individuals engage in cyber stalking for amusement or to impress others, lacking any personal vendetta against the victim. Their actions are fueled by ego and power displays.
Indian Context:
In the Indian context, cyber stalking has been found to be very widespread. In 2002, India witnessed its first reported case when Manish Kathuria was arrested by New Delhi Police for impersonating an Indian woman on the MIRC website and using her identity to share personal information while engaging in inappropriate chats after pretending to be Ms. Ritu Kohli.

The actions of Kathuria had a drastic impact on Kohli which included phone calls, obscene and harassing in nature. Kohli took the matter to Delhi Police who immediately took action and charged Kathuria under Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code for outraging her modesty. This incident emphasizes the gravity of cyber stalking cases - implying that there should be legislative protection for women victims in India.

The Reality of Cyber Stalking:
While the internet is vast, a significant number of real-life stalkers operate online. Estimates suggest that roughly 1 in 1,250 individuals are stalkers, highlighting the widespread impact of cyber stalking. Thousands of victims worldwide suffer from this crime. Vigilance and caution are essential when navigating the digital landscape to combat cyber threats.

Protecting Yourself from Cyber Stalkers:

Cyber stalkers exploit vulnerabilities, often targeting individuals seeking connection online. Their tactics are cunning and manipulative, aiming to gain trust and control. Be aware that those seeking sympathy, friendship, or romance online can be particularly susceptible to such predators.

It is your fundamental right to experience a sense of security and protection while interacting online. Harassment, threats, and intimidation are never acceptable. If cyber stalking escalates to threats, it becomes a criminal offense. In such cases, contact the police immediately.

Trying to understand the stalker's motivation can be a dead-end, as their actions often seem random and irrational. Instead of dwelling on 'why,' focus on practical steps to protect yourself.

How to End the Nightmare of Cyber Stalking:
Cyber stalking is a serious threat, impacting individuals of all ages. For kids and teens, the fear of getting in trouble can be a barrier to seeking help. However, it's crucial to remember that overcoming this fear and informing parents is the first step in ending the harassment.

Adults, too, need to take proactive measures. Sharing the situation with your spouse and family is essential for creating a support system. While legal protection against cyber stalking isn't uniform across all states, it's important to seek legal advice and explore available options.

One of the most effective ways to deter cyber stalkers is to avoid engaging with them. Never respond to provocative emails or online provocations. Instead, focus on reporting the harassment. File a complaint with your local police, especially if you or your children are experiencing threats or intimidation.

In addition to law enforcement, contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and email provider to report harassing emails. Seeking technical help from tech-savvy friends can also be beneficial. Remember, cyber stalkers often leave traces through their IP addresses, potentially making it possible to track them down.

Finally, preventative measures are key. Avoiding chat rooms and flirting with strangers online can significantly reduce the risk of cyber stalking. Maintaining a high level of safety awareness in the digital world is vital. Just like in real life, 'never talking to strangers' should be a guiding principle. By taking these steps and remaining vigilant, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the nightmare of cyber stalking.

Written By: Md.Imran Wahab, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly