Georgia cyber crime law distinguishes criminal acts of stalking, harassment, and intimidation by way of computer, computer network, or other electronic communication device. Telephones are considered cyber devices.
Communication could be by email, social media platform, or another application that accesses the internet. Cyber crimes can be prosecuted as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the seriousness of the crime.
What is the difference between cyber stalking and cyber harassment?
Cyber stalking and cyber harassment both involve the use of internet. Cyber stalking uses technology to gain information about someone for harmful purposes. It is considered more dangerous than cyber harassment because it threatens another's safety. In Georgia, cyber bullying is a form of criminal stalking.
Cyber harassment also uses the Internet but focuses on harassing, threatening, and embarrassing someone to inflict emotional damage.
Examples of cyber stalking and cyber harassment in the press include:
- Megan Meir was a victim of cyber harassment whose death made national headlines. Megan had a friend whose mother set up a fake online social media profile pretending to be a teenage boy who had interest in Megan. She used the fake profile to spy on Megan, bully her, and ultimately convince her that she was better off dead.
- Another case recently made national headlines when a 20-year-old from Massachusetts urged her boyfriend to kill himself by bombarding him with dozens of hateful text messages and goading him to commit suicide.
- A woman contacted police in 2003, when someone had given her private information, including her location and description, to men through a dating service. The woman discovered the act when two different men contacted her, each of whom stated they had previously talked with her and had arranged a personal encounter.
What are some of the consequences of cyber crimes?
Cyber stalking and cyber harassment are not to be taken lightly. One can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the nature and circumstances of the crime. Someone accused of these crimes could also face a civil lawsuit on grounds of inflicting emotional distress and anguish, defaming someone's character, or causing lost employment income.
What do cyber crime statistics tell us?
- The majority of cyber stalking victims are between the ages of 18 and 29
- About 56% of cyber stalkers are male
- In more than 70% of cyber stalking cases, the perpetrator lives in a different state from the victim
- More than 30% of cyber stalking crimes begin on social media sites such as Facebook