Understanding Stalking in the Virtual World
Recognizing an emerging problem, Radcliff (2000) recalled the words of Vice President Al Gore referencing the statement make no mistake, this kind of harassment can be as frightening or as real as being followed or watched in your neighborhood or your home. Radcliff believed there was a need for a comprehensive study of the little known crime, cyber stalking. Specifically, the Vice President delivered to the Office of the Attorney General, a request requiring an exploration of the nature and extent of cyber stalking and recommendations on how to improve efforts to combat this growing problem.
The Vice President made his initial request after recently reading a disturbing report about an email that showed up on the computers of thousands of the Internet users. It appeared this email came from an America Online (AOL) address and offered child pornography for sale. The message stated that the email was sent to the receivers because their names appeared on a list of people with similar taste. It went on to say that videos, pictures, and other products were available for purchase and included a name and street address. Outraged customers contacted AOL who in turn called the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). After a thorough investigation, the FBI found that the supposed perpetrator was not the one who sent the email and that the sender’s email address was not valid. Eventually, they discovered that the message was sent in an attempt to seek revenge.
The Office of Violence Against Women, a division of the Department of Justice, also that it was time to investigate this crime stating that they had seen a 113 percent increase in requests for help and information about internet stalking (www.usdoj.gov). With few knowledgeable sources on this subject, the agency felt they could do nothing more then provide a scant definition of online stalking to victims. They also felt they could not be of assistance to law...