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A New Challenge for Law Enforcement: Cyberstalking and Online Harassment

With its extensive property and wealth of resources, the Internet offers a simple setting for criminal activity. One such crime that has developed over the past 20 years is cyber stalking. As low-cost, speedy internet access and a greater number of internet users have emerged, the crime of stalking has also been amplified online and is now known as "cyberstalking," "e-stalking," or "online stalking".

In addition, a lot of software programmes, including spyware and stalkware, are available today solely for the purpose of abusing technology and conducting covert police investigations without the subject's knowledge. Interestingly, a recent study discovered that the punishment for the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has increased the crime of cyberstalking at a rapid rate.

This paper's ultimate goals are to understand how cyberstalking has evolved in an abstract way while prioritising the right to privacy, look for its connections to cyberbullying, and concentrate on the existing legal safeguards against the crime of cyberstalking. This paper examines the many laws that the Indian Republic has established to combat online stalking.

The term "Star-Stalking" was first used in the early 1990s to describe celebrity stalking by admirers. Currently, criminal behavior has spread beyond the physical world and includes both the virtual and physical realms. Cyberspace has led to unheard-of changes in the way people go about their daily lives in this digital age.

Information and communication technology (ICT), which was first developed for the benefit of society and to improve people's fashion and luxury, has gradually evolved into a tool for criminal objectives. The 3A(s) of Cyber area i.e., Anonymity, Authority, and a focus that not solely attracts the criminally minded folks, rather it additionally provides a chance for people to unleash their negative aspects to get pleasure in the dark fun.

The common goal of these stalkers is to invade their target's private space. In addition, cyber stalkers always try to keep tabs on their target's every move by sending them endless emails, text messages, obnoxious phone calls, or some other method. Yet, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) has recognized the right to privacy as a fundamental human right since 1948, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) has done the same since 1966.

Subsequently, the Supreme Court of India affirmed unequivocally that the right to privacy is a crucial component of the fundamental freedom protected by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The supreme court made the following observation: "Privacy isn't lost or ceded merely because the individual is in a very public setting. Since it's a crucial component of one's dignity, privacy attaches to the person.

Hence, this cyberstalking behaviour not only frightens and makes the victim feel threatened, but it also violates the victim's basic rights to privacy, dignity, and private liberty. It is important to note that a WHOA report from 2013 indicated that the majority of cyberstalking victims were female, (ii) about 40% of cyber-stalkers were male, and (iii) there were roughly 60 female victims of cyberstalking.

According to Harold D' Costa, the director of the Cyber Intelligent company and a trainer for police officers, "We are receiving close to 200 cases of this kind (cybercrime) every day from all throughout Maharashtra. India is the second-largest Internet user in the world, whereas Maharashtra is the top Internet user in India.

On various social networking platforms, there are nearly 16.04 big integer Indians registered, which makes it much easier to catch these stalkers. Also, this crime of cyberstalking was prepared during the COVID-19 incarceration period when people were forced to spend the majority of their time online.

Development of cyberstalking

The concepts of "customary following" and "cyberstalking" are inextricably linked, however they shouldn't be used interchangeably because cyberstalking unquestionably refers to a new sort of depraved behaviour that can be distinguished from the concept of "customary stalking."

In essence, cyberstalking derives only partially from the concept of traditional disturbance, in which the offender uses modern technology to commit crimes in cyberspace. Stalkers use tactics and behaviours with the intention of bugging in both traditional and online settings, and it has occasionally resulted in negative consequences. Like traditional stalking, cyberstalking is motivated by anger, outrage, and a desire to influence the target person. On occasion, it may also be sparked by the victim's actions or inaction.

Surprisingly, Bociji and McFarlane defined "cyberstalking" as "a collection of behaviors by a person who uses Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to annoy someone else."

They additionally gave a rundown of ways of behaving which might be named as cyberstalking, for example:
  1. transmission of dangers and bogus allegations;
  2. harm to information or hardware, personality, or information burglary;
  3. computer checking, the requesting of minors for sexual purposes and
  4. some other types of aggression. Further, cyberstalking in view of the casualty's information can be partitioned into two types. That is where the following demeanor is seen or referred to by the casualty is called 'Plain' and whenever such exercises of digital stalker are stowed away from the casualty's information is named 'Covert'. Thus, this altered and expanded conduct of cyberstalking makes it more perplexing what is more, testing to handle.

Further, cyberstalking is not just restricted to the simple individual however means any individual that incorporates the corporate elements too. Along these lines, the previously mentioned cyberstalking ways of behaving gave an enhanced weakness over the right to protection and conspicuously forced danger against the assurance of information around the internet.

Yet, there aren't really any noteworthy issues that again set cyberstalking apart from the following:

Geographical proximity is:
  1. Cyberstalking is carried out in a virtual environment without regard to geographic boundaries. Thus, there is no prior requirement for an actual showdown, so a digital stalker and casualty may or may not be personally acquainted with one another;
  2. Expectation
    If traditional stalking should occur, it is more favorable for professionals to track down the stalker as opposed to cyberstalking. Similarly, in a later instance, the identity of wrongdoers can be effectively hidden behind a mask of anonymity.
  3. Spontaneous digital stalkers may arbitrarily choose their victims because technology provides a safeguard to hide their identity.

Who Are The Most Likely Victims And Offenders Of Cyberstalking?

  1. Females are much more likely to come to be victimized than males.
  2. Educational organization also totally likely goal of cyberstalking.

Where Does Cyberstalking Occurs?

  • Emails
  • Newsgroups/message boards
  • Internet sites
  • Chat rooms
  • Third-party messages
  • Service consumer profile


Psychological Reason

  • Jealousy
  • Obsession
  • Attraction
  • Revenge

Online Harassment and Cyberstalking in India:
Legislative Remedies Since the 1990s, stalking and harassing has emerged as a not unusual place incidence because of Internet. In 2001, India's first cyberstalking case become stated. Manish Kathuria become stalking an Indian lady, Ms. Ritu Kohli via way of means of illegally chatting at the internet site, the use of her name; and used obscene and obnoxious language, and allotted her house phone number, invited humans to talk together along with her at the phone. As a result, Ms. Ritu Kohli become getting obscene calls from numerous states of India and abroad, and those have been speaking grimy together along with her.

In a nation of shock, she known as the Delhi police and stated the matter. The police registered her case below Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 for outraging the modesty of Ritu Kohli. But Section 509 refers best to a word, a gesture or an act meant to insult modesty of a woman. But whilst equal matters are finished on Internet, then there may be no point out approximately it with inside the stated section. This case precipitated alarm to the Indian government, for the want to amend legal guidelines concerning the aforesaid crime and concerning safety of sufferers below the equal.

The Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 As a result, Section 66A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 (hereinafter the IT Act, 2008) states: Punishment for sending offensive messages via communique service, etc.

Any character who sends, via a laptop aid or a communique device:
  1. any records this is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or
  2. any records which he is aware of to be false, however for the cause of inflicting annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, crook intimidation, enmity, hatred, or sick will, consistently makes via way of utilising such laptop aid or a communique device;
  3. any email or email message for the cause of inflicting annoyance or inconvenience or to misinform or to lie to the addressee or recipient approximately the foundation of such messages Published in Articles phase of Bharati Law Review, July - Sept., 2013 ninety will be punishable with imprisonment for a time period which may also make bigger to threeyears and with quality.
The IT Act, 2008 does now no longer at once cope with stalking. But the trouble is dealt extra as an 'intrusion directly to the privateness of individual' than as everyday cyber offences that are mentioned withinside the IT Act, 2008.

Hence the maximum used provision for regulating cyberstalking in India is Section 72 of the IT Act, 2008 which runs as follows:
  • Section72: Breach of confidentiality and privateness.- Save as in any other case supplied on this Act or some other regulation in the intervening time in force, any character who, in pursuant of any of the powers conferred below this Act, policies or guidelines made thereunder, has secured get admission to any digital record, book, register, correspondence, records, file or different fabric without the consent of the character involved discloses such digital record, book, register, correspondence, records, file or different fabric to some other character will be punished with imprisonment for a time period which may also make bigger to two years, or with quality which may also make bigger to at least one Lakh rupees, or with both.
  • Section 72A: Punishment for disclosure of information in breach of lawful contract.- Save as otherwise provided in this Act or any other law for the time being in force, any person including an intermediary who, while providing services under the terms of lawful contract, has secured access to any material containing personal information about another person, with the intent to cause or knowing that he is likely to cause wrongful loss or wrongful gain discloses, without the consent of the person concerned, or in breach of a lawful contract, such material to any other person shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years, or with a fine which may extend to 5 lakh rupees, or with both.
  • In practice, these provisions can be read with Section 441 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which deals with offences related to criminal trespass and runs as follows: Whoever enters into or upon property in the possession of another with intent to commit an offence or to intimidate, insult or annoy any person in possession of such property, or having lawfully entered into or upon such property, unlawfully remains there with intent thereby to intimidate, insult or annoy any such person, or with an intent to commit an offence, is said to commit criminal trespass.

Enforcement Problems

The main barrier to the Indian government enforcing the Information Technology Act is Section 75's "extraterritorial jurisdiction."

This section makes it quite plain that anyone who violates the Information Technology Act in India, whether or not they are Indian nationals, by committing a crime involving computer systems or networks, is subject to its penalties.

The law's purview has to be broadened. Moreover, when the legal systems of two nations are completely at odds. Stalking may be prohibited in some places, but not necessarily in others, where it may not even be regarded as wrongdoing. In light of this, we have a jurisdictional issue. As a result, there is a problem with enforcement to think about. Both nations will benefit from working together to address this problem.

How One Prevent Themselves
After doing study on many facets of cyber communication, it was discovered that there are restrictions on the legal control of online harassment in situations involving cyberstalkers who operate in anonymity. These are some more appropriate strategies people can employ to safeguard themselves against online harassment.
  • Avoid disclosing personal information to strangers or sharing it in public areas of the internet, including chat rooms and e-mail.
  • If you ever get an offensive, slanderous, or inflammatory email, never react to it.
  • Avoid getting riled up online or responding to flame.
  • You can use internet filtering tools like email ID blocking, spam reporting, and strong encryption programmes like Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), which guarantee completely private communications. You shouldn't be the victim of stalking if it's happening to you.
Report the event to your ISP, the local police department, or a group that provides internet assistance. You should also ask your tech-savvy friends for advice.
  • Save communications, or copy them and paste them into self-emails, to preserve any proof of potential harassment.
  • Prevention is always preferable to treatment.

The ideal way to voice issues is through a cyber cell or online help desk. Websites must remove reported content within 24 hours in order to comply with Rule 2(b) of Chapter II of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Regulations, 2021.

In addition to the police, victims have the option of getting in touch with CERT-IN (Indian Computer Emergency Response Team), a nodal organisation recognised under Section 70B of the IT Act.The National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal is another option for the victim to file a complaint.

The best approach involves the person setting their own restrictions, like needing a challenging password with both letters and digits. Limiting how much personally identifiable information is posted about oneself on social media is also crucial. The Information Technology Act has to be revised to make law enforcement easier, and the scope of existing laws should be expanded to encompass extraterritorial jurisdiction.

  1. Available at:
  2. Information Technology Act,2000
  3. Joel Best, Stalking, Encyclopedia Britannica, June 6, 2016 available at: accessed
  4. Ehsan Salimi & Abbas Mansourabadi, The Criminology of Cyber Stalking
  5. Merriam-Webster Legal Dictionary, Cyberstalking, available at:
  6. Universal Declarations of Human Rights, G.A. Res. 217A, U.N. Doc. A/810 (December 12, 1948), Art. 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

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