In an increasingly digital era that we live in, a whole new breed of stalking has become commonplace in the form of cyberstalking and online harassment. While California was the first state to implement anti-stalking laws back in 1990, as far as stalking via the internet is concerned, the federal government prosecutes most cases carried out through that medium.
Under the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, anyone who accesses any personal information about another though the internet without expressed authorization to do so has the potential of being held not only criminally, but also civilly responsible for doing so. In this case, 8 U.S.C. 1030, specifically concerns itself with the potential of another person being defrauded by a perpetrator’s actions.
Some examples in which one may access information in unauthorized fashion under this law include an individual being unknowingly recorded while accessing his or her computer. This can occur either by someone rigging a webcam or installing software on his or her victim’s device to track his or her actions.
Likewise, copyright infringement laws apply to cases in which intimate videos or photographs filmed by and in the possession of the victim are intercepted by another. Under 17 U.S.C. 50, any instance in which this type material is disseminated online by an individual other than the owner, the perpetrator of those actions can be held criminally liable for doing so.
Any threats or attempts to extort money from another as a means of coercing another into allowing an individual to publish private videos or photos is also prohibited under 18 U.S.C. 875. Additionally, any situation in which an individual eavesdrops on another by way of intercepting their electronic communications can be held criminally both civilly and criminally liable as well under 18 U.S.C. 2511.
In the case of all these internet- or technology-associated crimes listed above, the common element that makes each of these federal law violations as opposed to either merely state or municipal ones is that they all involve the use of interception, extortion or access through commerce channels that are considered to be interstate ones. Interstate channels, in this case, include phones, the internet, computers and other devices.
If you’ve been charged with cyberstalking, online harassment or any other type of internet-related crime, an Orange County, California, criminal defense attorney can provide guidance in your legal matter.
Source: privacyrights.org, “Online harassment & cyberstalking,” accessed April 25, 2017