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How Technology Has Influenced the Act of Stalking

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How Technology has Influenced the Act of Stalking




Stalking implies to the use of tracking technologies to pursue a person as to cause harm or induce fear. This study focuses on the act of stalking and the extent to which technological evolution has accelerated stalking. The study further investigates the forms through which stalking is enhanced by the use of technology while examining its possible preventive strategies and mitigation measures. This research involves a pilot study of the people affected most by stalking with focus on the United States. There is a threat by the perpetrators of stalking to punish and humiliate their by threatening to share embarrassing contents online. Stalking through the use of technology is a very serious offense and therefore requires the development of effective practice, legal responses, and policy formulation. Further research should, however, be conducted to investigate the extent to which the preventive measures given are appropriate towards controlling and reducing stalking through the use of technology.

With the advancements in technology, many forms of criminal activities are coming up, for instance, stalking. In fact, crimes of stalking are becoming very prevalent in the United States. This study aims to discuss stalking, its prevalence as a result of technological evolution and strategies to prevent its spread. Legal definitions of stalking may change from one jurisdiction to another, however the right definition of stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person which may cause a reasonable person to feel fear. (Department of Justice, 2012)

The analysis conducted by the US Department of justice indicates that 8% of women and 2% of men have become victims of stalking at a point in their lives. In the United States, about 400,000 men and 1,000,000 women are stalked annually (Department of Justice, 1998). Women, therefore happen to be the most common victims of stalking using the data from the US Department of Justice. The analysis further shows that 23% of the stalkers identified by the females were strangers. This data further indicates that 87% of the stalkers are men. The primary targets of stalking are adults aged between 18-39 years (Department of Justice, 1998).

 Advancements in technology coupled with the increased access to this technology have led to a rise in internet related crimes like stalking.  New methods and tools of abuse such as the internet, email, social media and surveillance software are being used by perpetrators to intimidate and stalk their victims. Additionally, it is difficult for the victims of stalking to escape because of the use of technology which ties them close to their abusive partners.

The use of technology has made it easy to connect through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, Skype, WhatsApp among others which has made it simple and much more comfortable to communicate with other people. Stalkers may try to directly abuse their victims by making contact over the phone or by engaging face to face (Baum et al., 2009; Cattaneo et al., 2011; Cox & Speziale, 2009). The manner in which people are always updating Facebook statuses while indicating their location and other activities like looking for directions using a phone may also be misused by stalkers to harass and control their victims.

The nature of social media is sharing information that is personal over the internet. Thus a stalker can collect enough data concerning the victim over the internet. According to Wilsem (2011) and Wykes (2007) stalkers take advantage of the personal information available on network sites and hard drives of computers, laptops, and smartphones to learn more about their targets. The internet, for instance, Facebook is in most cases equipped with personal information like a target’s home and employment that are enough to pursue a victim. Tools to gain enough information and disseminate photos about him or her may be on the web. Facebook in a joint effort with the National Network for Ending Domestic Violence(NEDV) has provided a “Privacy & safety on Facebook: A guide for survivors of Abuse” which is an essential resource towards understanding the means towards which Facebook can be a safer form of social media. It does not, however, guarantee total safety and security to the victim.

Stalkers may as well utilize technology to contact its victims the same way they can reach them in person or face to face. They can use social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp at an overwhelming rate to approach the target and send humiliating and threatening messages. Preventing the harm from the stalker may have to involve drafting a list and record of all the unwanted messages and texts including the emails and also the number of contacts made. These are used as evidence of the behavior of the stalker.

Passwords are useful towards securing personal information from access by other people. Usually, passwords need to be kept confidential. However, there are some ways in which stalkers can access passwords. Spyware, for instance, is one of the invasive technology through which stalkers can access passwords. This technology is risky since it can allow access to a targets phone activity and get the necessary information. Spyware makes it easy for someone to secretly monitor the internet activity and whereabouts of a target (Cox & Speziale, 2009) This allows the stalker to easily monitor the target.



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