Cyber Stalking, Cyber Harassment and Cyber Bullying Laws

In light of the circumstances, numerous states have enacted "cyber stalking" or cyber harassment" laws or currently possess laws that specifically include electronic forms of communication within more traditional stalking or harassment laws. In addition, many states have enacted "cyber bullying" laws in reaction to issues related to protecting minors from online bullying or harassment.

Cyber stalking constitutes use of the world-wide-web (i.e., the Internet), electronic mail or other electronic communications to stalk. It generally refers to a pattern of threatening or malicious behaviors. It may be considered the most dangerous of the three types of Internet harassment, based on a posing credible threat of harm. Penalties range from misdemeanor to felony. See Cal. Civil Code 1708.7, Cal. Penal Code 646.9.

Cyber harassment is different from cyber stalking since it may not involve a credible threat. It usually pertains to threatening or harassing email messages, instant messages, or to blog entries or websites dedicated solely to tormenting a person. Some state legislatures have dealt with this issue by inserting provisions which address electronic communications in general harassment statutes, while others have created stand-alone cyber harassment statutes. See Cal. Penal Code 422, 653.2, and 653m.

However, cyber bullying and cyber harassment are used interchangeably sometimes. Generally, cyber bullying is used for electronic harassment or bullying amongst minors in the context of schools. Recent legislation seems to show a trend of placing the burden of enforcement of such policies on school districts. Hence, the laws establish the infrastructure for schools to handle this issue by amending pre-existing school anti-bullying policies to include cyber bullying or electronic harassment among children in educational environments. Most state laws enforce sanctions for cyber bullying on school property, school buses, or school functions. See Cal. Ed. Code 32261, 32265, 32270, and 48900.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Salar Atrizadeh, Esq.
Salar Atrizadeh, Esq. is licensed to practice law in the State of California, District of Columbia and the United States District Courts for the Central District of California. Mr. Atrizadeh has dedicated his practice in learning about day-to-day legal problems and providing solutions to his clients. He is familiar with various areas of the law, including but not limited to, civil litigation and transactional work. Mr. Atrizadeh is a knowledgeable attorney with sophisticated strategies and records of success to protect client interests. He has extensive experience in law office management and after graduation began his private practice in Los Angeles, California.

Mr. Atrizadeh is a member of the Cyberspace Law Committee of the American Bar Association's Section of Business Law. He is also a member of the California State Bar's Cyberspace Law Committee and a member of the Internet Society.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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