Category Archives: cyber stalking
I received this question via email from a reader:
Dear Ask a Cyber Lawyer:
My boyfriend is stationed over seas in the Air Force, and we usually use the internet to communicate. It turns out that his ex-wife has been using an old account of his, and pretending to be him. I just found out that while I thought I have been chatting with him, I was really chatting with his ex. This has caused me a lot of emotional anguish. Is there any way I can sue her?
My response is this. With out knowing anything else about the case, it is possible that there could be several causes of action that could be brought against her by both you and your boyfriend.
First, in some jurisdictions it is actually a crime to impersonate someone on the internet. So it might be worth while to involve the police.
Second, there are civil causes of actions you can bring up. One is the tort of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, or IIED. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress occurs when the Defendant intentionally or recklessly commits extreme and outrageous conduct which causes the plaintiff to suffer emotional distress (in some jurisdictions this action must be done in public). If you were induced by this person to commit some sort of act, such as send money, there are fraud actions which may be available as well.
Your boyfriend may also have causes of action available. First, anything she said while impersonating him is likely actionable as defamation. Likewise he may also have an invasion of privacy claim for portraying him in a false light.
My advice is call my firm, or an attorney in your area and make an appointment to discuss the specifics in this matter.
Disclaimer: This blog post contains no actual legal advice. It is difficult to dispense comprehensive legal advice on the internet. If you find the information on this site interesting and insightful, great. But before you rely on any of this advice, please consult a legal professional with the specific details of your case or controversy.
A Reader via email asks:
My daughter has had a “fake” Facebook page the past few years – not her real name, to stay anonymous but interact with people who like the same music she did. The fans are more than a little strange and she was only 19 at the time. She interacted with a young man on facebook and email approx 5 months who wanted a relationship with her, without ever divulging her real name/address/phone. She decided against it and ended contact with him a few weeks ago. Now he’s claiming my daughter was stalking him, impersonating someone she wasn’t and that he’s going to sue her for “anything my lawyers can think of.” I’m wondering what she might have done that could be considered illegal. I’m seriously concerned if this guy can actually hunt her down to our actual address with this threat of legal action.
Ok, here is the deal in plain terms. With the limited information I have, the only trouble your daughter probably caused was a violation of facebook’s terms of service. Facebook requires that users must be real persons and do not allow for any sort of pseudo-persons as users of their site.
The only way she could have stirred up some legal troubles is if she impersonated a real person, particularly a celebrity. This would possibly fall under the tort of invasion of privacy- appropriating a false identity. It doesn’t seem to be the case here.
As far as cyberstalking is concerned, the definition differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but in general it is the unwanted and repeated intrusion into another person’s real-life vis-a-vis the internet. It does not look like she has done this, however, her accuser may be liable for cyberstalking himself. False victimization, or wrongly accusing others of cyberstalking is a form of cyberstalking in and of itself. Contacting her through the internet after she has made it clear that she does not want to be contacted is another, more obvious form of cyberstalking. If I were in your daughter’s situation I would make sure that he has no way of accessing her personal information.
Disclaimer: It is difficult to dispense comprehensive legal advice on the internet. If you find the information on this site interesting and insightful, great. But before you rely on any of this advice, please consult a legal professional with the specific details of your case or controversy.