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Cyber Stalking - A "Virtual" Crime With Real Consequences

STOP CYBER STALKING

"Cyber Stalking against women,men and children is on the rise worldwide and we need to act now to prevent it from further affecting more lives."

Ritu Kohli,32, married,worked with an embassy in New Delhi.Her perfectly normal life turned upside down,when she started receiving a series of emails from an unknown source.

The person, through the mails, threatened her to either pose nude for him or cough up Rs.1 Lakh.

Initially she ignored the mails.

But when she started receiving similar threatening letters through post,she got alarmed.

In the mails and letters, the accused threatened Kohli, that he would put up her morphed pictures on the adult sites along with her telephone and home address.He also alleged to put up these same pictures in her neighborhood, where she lived.Adding to her worries,the accused did send her the photographs, through mail, which Kohli later confirmed to be the same photographs which she had in her mail folder.Not only that,she also received numerous unsolicited phone calls from strangers at odd hours,asking her for sexual favors.

Distraught,Kohli lodged a police complaint.

Fortunately for her the Delhi police immediately sprung into action.They traced down the IP address ( Internet Protocol address) of the hacker to a cyber cafe.

The police felt that the accused knew the victim well, as he seemed to know a lot about her.

They later confirmed that the accused had managed to hack Kohli's email address and password, which enabled him to access her pictures.The accused had also chatted on behalf of her on a chatting portal where he had distributed her phone number to the various chatters.

The cyber stalker- Manish Kathuria,later got arrested by the Delhi police and was booked under sec 509 of the IPC ( Indian Penal Code)for outraging the modesty of a woman and also under the IT Act ( Information Technology Act) of 2000.

The case highlighted here is of year 2001 and is of particular interest as Ritu Kohli's case marked the first case of cyber stalking to be reported in India.

Before this,people were unaware of the term "cyber stalking" and ignorant of the fact that internet could also be used in a detrimental and devilish way.

Cyber stalking is defined as the use of internet or other electronic media to stalk or harass an individual or group.Cyber stalking is a relatively new form of computer related crime where people, particularly women and children, are stalked online ( also sometimes offline) and are monitored, threatened or solicited for sex, money,using the information posted online.

Personal space and privacy of the victim is compromised,where every move is "watched" by the perpetrators and/or pedophiles.

The person involved in such a crime, is mostly delusional, racist or even an egoist who believes that the anonymity offered by the cyber space coupled with the fact that they cannot be 'touched physically',gives them a sense of confidence in carrying out such crimes.

Though the crime is committed online, its repercussions are faced offline, in the real world.

Rape,suicide,murder along with psychological and emotional distress,are often the end results faced by the victims.

According to a report by the Security and Defense Agenda, a leading defense and security think-tank in Brussels, and McAfee - India is ranked fifth worldwide in countries affected by cyber crime.

With a total internet subscriber base of more than 121 million,India is poised to become the third largest online population country by 2013.Hence the implications and risks attached with cyber crime will be on the rise, with more public being "available online".

The ease with which a cyber stalker disguises himself by adopting different fake identities and switching servers,makes the crime even more dangerous and the victim that much more susceptible and liable to be accused.

Hence the need of the hour is to be careful and responsible while operating online.

Below mentioned are some of the advice given by experts regarding safety and security to be followed regarding cyber crimes:

>No to sharing your passwords.
>No to filling out forms or profiles for websites that claim to offer " free" goods or services.
>No to gender specific screen names or IDs.
>No to giving out personal/intimate details on public websites.
>Yes to a good anti-virus program.
>Yes to parental controls when children use the net.
>Yes to saving all the communication sent by the stalker on your computer.
>Yes to know about the laws/guidelines pertaining to cyber crimes in your country.
>And most importantly,yes to reporting it to the police.

While following the aforementioned advice will always help,what can also be done is to be aware of the laws governing cyber crimes in our country.

Cyber law/ guidelines-India:

There are no laws that directly affect cyber stalking in India. India's Information Technology Act of 2000 ( IT Act, 2000) was a set of laws implemented to regulate the cyberspace.

The Act was modified in 2008 ( IT Act 2008) to include interpersonal cyber crimes, but still failed to directly address the issue of cyber stalking.

Cyber stalking (though inadequately)is addressed mainly through IPC ( Indian Penal Code,) which regulates crimes of the real space.

Fortunately,there is a law for mandatory registration for every first visit by a customer to a cyber cafe all over India.Ideally,every person should provide contact details and a photo identity when visiting a cafe for the first time.

India is still in the nascent stages of implementing cyber laws.Until and unless we raise our voice against this inadequacy,a stricter and separate law would not be brought into force.

Internet and its realm of reach is infinite.Through it we can be closer to a person sitting miles away. But what we should also remember that by bringing information closer to us, it also exposes us to the infinite possibilities of cyber abuse.

Therefore next time let us pledge to be more careful before sharing personal details online.

Let us pledge to raise our voice against any cyber criminal activity or person, if we or our dear ones are affected.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Ending Violence Against Women Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

Sharontina's picture

Good

Good Mukut,

You have brought one of the vicious crimes that has spread out its hands targeting the vulnerable ones.

Love.

Merlin Sharontina

Mukut's picture

Dearest Sharontina

Sharontina,

Words of praise coming from a vocal and strong woman like you, mean a lot to me.

Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

Yes,with growing internet user base,we need to be vigilant about what is being posted online and also simultaneously raise our voice for a stronger, stricter law against this.

Much love,

Mukut Ray

Amei's picture

Another bullying avenue!

This is now an avenue that is again used for what it is not meant for. The down side of cyber! We have to create awareness to be safe and use internet wisely.

I do hope people take notice of the suggestion given by you, Mukut.

Good to read a thoughtfully written post.

With Love
Amei

Mukut's picture

Yes,Amei

Amei,

You have correctly pointed out that this has become a source of bullying the innocent victims and what is more disheartening to know that often children,unknowingly, fall prey to the crime and are abused subsequently.

Thank you so much for reading my article and commenting.Appreciate your feedback a lot.

Much love,

Mukut Ray

Greengirl's picture

Great post Mukut

Coming across this post is such a welcome coincidence. Only yesterday I got a private message from one of my Facebook contacts. This was the message:

"How is your healths hop all is will with you and your family. My Name is Anita Tombong daughter to late Dr Tanba Tombong, please lets know each other better as good friend, Because I have something VERY important to tell you as a friend. write me in this id(anitato12 @ yahoo.com)i will like to tell you more about myself and send you my photos. remember age and distance should not be a barrier, it should not limit us from bin a good friend or family friends. have a nice day with your family?"
please write me ver my privet email, not in Facebook,so that i will tell you about myself and send you my family photos in this email address.. anitato12@ yahoo.com"

Apparently, I just couldn't remember who this person was and at what point I accepted her(?) as a friend. She(?) claimed to bear the names Anita Tom. For whatever reasons, I lost my peace after reading the said message which provided an email address through which I was supposed to contact her(?); as she claimed she(?) would prefer that means of communication. I immediately logged into my Facebook page to ascertain how and when I added her(?) an if we had any mutual friends. I found just one mutual friend but I still felt uneasy, so I went further by viewing her(?) page. The page was void of friend's lists and her(?) profile picture and other photos looked like they were copied from somewhere. By this time my uneasiness weighed on me as if I had a bag of rocks saddled on my back. I immediately decided to block her(?).

Having read through the cyber safety and security advice/measures you shared, the only mistake I think I made was deleting the message from my yahoo in box. Good enough though, it's still in my inbox on Facebook.

What you shared is quite revealing, timely and must be taken seriously globally. It would certainly save us the heart ache of stories such as that of Cynthia Osokogu, a 24 year old Nigerian girl who met her untimely death in the hands of friends she met via Facebook. Her story is quite popular by now and you may want to google it. In solidarity with what you shared, I would endeavour to post one or two of the very horrible stories of cyber stalking that happened in my country.

There is just so much evil out there and we must be safety and security conscious. We must also teach others to be! God help us all and bless you for sharing from your heart and wisdom.

Hugs,

Olanike

Mukut's picture

Well done Olanike

Well done Olanike.Thank God you blocked her because many times imposters pose as your "friend" or benefactor and try to unearth privatw details from you.I am sure that person is a "he" and not "she" and the intentions seem wrong.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.We all need to be more vigilant when it comes to using the internet and other social media tools.

Thank you for stopping by.

Much love

Mukut Ray

Greengirl's picture

Thank you Mukut

I hope you can make out time to read an article I found and posted. I made reference to your post.

Best wishes!

Mukut's picture

Yes Olanike

Thank you Dear Olanike.

Much love

Mukut Ray

Mukut's picture

Yes Olanike

Thank you Dear Olanike.

Much love

Mukut Ray

usha kc's picture

Thank you Mukut for such an

Thank you Mukut for such an informative post.

Mukut's picture

Thank you Usha

Usha,

Thank you for reading my post and commenting.Appreciate your feedback.

Much love,

Mukut Ray

bewa's picture

Spotlight on an Important Issue

Mukut, thank you for posting this. Your point about the real-world consequences of cyber issues an important one. As we become more connected on the internet, there are also risks. We need to be informed and be careful. Thank you for shining a spotlight on this important issue.

Mukut's picture

Thank you Bewa

Bewa,

Thank you for reading my post. Yes, it is an increasingly important issue and being aware of the pros and cons will ensure us to be secure in online world.

Thank you for your comments.

Much love

Mukut Ray

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Thank You, Mukut!

Dear Mukut,

Your testimony is strong and clear and solutions-oriented. Thank you and thank you -- as dark as this subject is, we need to make sure we all understand Cyber Stalking and how to protect ourselves from it. I am also surprised to hear that it is so prevalent in India.

You may already have been told that your report is very, very timely for World Pulse, too; due to other breeches in proper, safe Internet behavior, Scott has just posted further reminders about Internet safety and security.

So, your voice has been heard by many and will be heard by many more, resulting in raised consciousness and greater caution regarding this very serious issue.

Thank you!

With Gratitude and Respect,

Sarah

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby

Mukut's picture

Thank you Sarah

Thank you Sarah for those encouraging,kind words. I appreciate your feedback.

Much love,

Mukut Ray

Angela Kintu's picture

Thank you

Thank you for highlighting this Mukut. Cyber stalking is as real as physical threat - possibly even worse!

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