Cyber-stalking should be made a criminal offence, says a group of MPs calling for an overhaul of the law.
BBC News – Cyber-stalking should be a criminal offence, MPs say
The MPs also say police and prosecutors must give all stalking complaints greater priority.
Data released by probation union Napo shows 2.2% of the 53,000 stalking incidents recorded in England and Wales in 2009 led to a jail term.
The charity Network for Surviving Stalking says the internet is “another weapon in the stalker’s armoury”.
via BBC News – Cyber-stalking should be a criminal offence, MPs say.
An Online Reputation Attacks On A Successful Small Family Business Which Resulted In The Family Losing Almost All Of Its Income And The Collapse Of Everything They Have Ever Worked For.
Jeff Clark, a husband and a father to three young children age 3, 6 & 10 has always loved cars. He has been fixing them since he was 12 and has worked in local garages around the Manchester area for many years now……
Read full story on Defamation Solicitors website
One day, Jeff received a telephone call from a chap by the name of Herald Keller, who worked for one of Jeff’s regular suppliers in Germany – the largest wholesaler of second-hand Saab car parts in Europe. Herald Keller told Jeff that his employer was not going to supply Unique Vehicle Suppliers with parts anymore, because there was too much ‘bad stuff’ about Unique Vehicle Suppliers on the internet and that the name of Hines’ employer started to get tarnished as well through some of the very negative internet posts. Basically, there was so much negative publicity on the internet about Unique Vehicle Suppliers that Hines’ employer started to get concerned about his own company’s reputation
Read full story on Defamation Solicitors website
Very often victims of online harassment, online intimidation and online defamation feel hopeless and powerless to act: simply scared and paralysed with a growing number victims seriously considering suicide as they feel they have no one to turn to for help.
The police in the UK are indeed not equipped to deal with online harassment and online intimidation. Very few senior police officers have any understanding of the psychic of the internet, the nature of a Google Bomb, the technologies or the techniques which online attackers and bullies use to intimidate their victims.
But even if the police accepted your case of online harassment and agreed to investigate it, the police would have warned you that if any action was to be taken against your online attacker, this would take a very long time to investigate and once investigated, a case would have to be made to a local civil servant who works for the Crown Prosecution Service who would eventually have to decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to prosecute.
If and when, many months later, your case would have come to court, you should expect many more months of delay until it is completed, and not necessarily in your favour. You see, the criminal justice system requires a very high level of proof before anyone could be convicted which means the court might not necessarily decide in your favour.
In a recent case, which is believed to be the first in the UK where a person was jailed following a long term campaign of online harassment, it took the criminal justice system no less than 18 months to place the attacker, who was internet savvy behind bars and even then the court was unable to force him to remove the intimidating blogs and websiteswhich he created against his victim over a period of 18 months. These remain intact, which means that following the publicity which the case received in the national media, the defamatory comments and remarks gather almost unprecedented force and ‘search engine power’ which in turn means, that following the jail sentence which was received by the attacker, his defamatory blogs and websites received an unprecedented number of visits, causing the victim even more damage than before.
This begs the question of whether the criminal justice system is the best forum to have cases of online intimidation and online harassment resolved. Who wants to go through 18 months of hell just to see their attacker being jailed for a couple of months and without having the defamatory blogs removed at the end of the process, but instead, seeing the blogs gathering momentum because of the publicity which surrounded the court case?
Internet Law Expert Yair Cohen says that victims of online reputation attacks and online intimidation should take their cases to the high court instead of reporting them to the police.
As a hospital administrator has become the first man in the UK to be jailed for stalking a woman by blogs, internet law expert, Yair Cohen says that it seems that the authorities have now sent a strong message to all those who wrongly believe that the internet is a lawless land where stalking, bullying, harassment, defamation and blackmail are a fair game and have demonstrated that online harassment shall not be tolerated in our society.
In a case which was heard by Magistrates in Manchester, a 38 year old man, Stephen Andreassen continuously attacked his female victim by using no less than 35 website blogs in which he repeatedly insulted her, causing her upset and reputational damage. Andreassen also used emails to harass his victims as well as social networking sites such as Facebook.
“It is not surprising at all”, says one of the UK’s leading internet legal experts Yair Cohen, “that it took the authorities 18 months before Andreassen was finally jailed. By this time, his victim must have been completely destroyed
mentally and emotionally. Her confidence must have been shattered and her trust in people would have been replaced with cynicism and weariness. Had this hate campaign been conducted offline, I have no doubt that the authorities would have acted much quicker to bring it to a halt.
By the time Andreassen was jailed he had already appeared in court on a number of occasions. On one occasion, after he admitted harassment, an order was made against him to refrain from mentioning his victim’s name on any websites. Again, it appears it took some time before this very limited court order was made and even longer, before breaches were dealt with.
“It is very likely,” says Yair Cohen “that had this been a case of domestic harassment, where more traditional methods of harassments were being used, the victim would have been relieved from her pain much, much earlier. It seems to me that the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Magistrates’ Courts are not yet ready to effectively deal with these sorts of online harassment cases. The civil courts however are much quicker to act in response to online harassment cases with injunctions being granted within days rather than months and years. I strongly advise victims of online harassment,” says Yair Cohen “to take their cases to the High Court where solicitors can obtain a much more comprehensive injunction on their behalf within 48 hours. There is no need for victims of online harassment to suffer for such a long time before the harassment is stopped.”
Despite him being jailed, a large number of the defamatory blogs that Andreassen created against his victim still remain active and are visible to the entire world to view. Yair Cohen says that a properly prepared High Court injunction would have ensured that the blogs and websites were removed by the internet service providers and that once such an injunction was granted, it could last for life, preventing anyone from taking part in the publication of material which is prohibited by the court order.
During his online campaign of harassment, Andreassen boasted of being so skilled in IT that he could set up and manipulate blogs about Miss Pattinson quicker than they could be deleted.
“It is not unusual for IT skilled individuals to blackmail their victims by making threats to destroy their victim’s reputation unless certain demands being met,”says Yair Cohen. “The police have seemed to so far, failed to recognise the fact that this form of blackmail is a criminal offence, mainly out of ignorance and lack of resources. In my law firm we take these sorts of threats very seriously and we make sure that we articulate clearly to the perpetrators of such online threats, the civil as well as the criminal implications of their actions.”
How To Get Rid Of Internet Defamation
Because the internet is a world of extremes, success and failures could literally happen overnight. The speed by which, for example you can have web pages listed on first pages of Google could bring immediate and substantial amount of money to your business, literally overnight. The same speed however that leads to this immediate success could cause a complete devastation to people and business owners who find that their reputation has been tarnished almost overnight. The good news however, is that with the principle of ‘easy come easy go’, listings of web pages on the first pages of the search engines are constantly changing which means that it is possible for negative information to disappear from the first pages of the search engines and be replaced by positive information fairly quickly. Speed is the key and the quicker you act the easier the task is. This should be somewhat comforting to those who sustain online reputation attacks because the knowledge that nothing on the internet is set in stone, gives you the opportunity to replace negative comments with positive ones. The same rules of extremes apply to videos and personal information which appear online.
Because of the extremely high volume of information, which is being posted daily on the internet, what is prominent today becomes little known tomorrow and high audience could turn into low volumes over a period of time and sometimes instantly.
In fact, if you search the internet for almost anything, you will struggle to find internet pages which were posted before 2008. Another, very encouraging set of statistics which reflect the extremes by which the internet operates is to do with the clicking habits of web users. It shows that results on the first page of Google receive 89% of the clicks, results on the second page receive 4.37 of clicks, results on the third page receive 2.42%, results on the forth page receive 1.07% and results on the remaining pages receive a total of less than 1% of the clicks. This means that 93.3 out of 100 people find results on page 3 and below irrelevant. As a result the vast majority of the people would not bother searching beyond the third page. This, in fact, is good news for anyone who suffers an online reputation attack.
It means that most online reputation attacks could be defeated or at least be pushed down to obscurity. If you are interested in the full click through statistics, you can find them below. The numbers of course, fluctuate all the time but could be regarded as a true reflection of the searching habits of the internet population.
I am sorry to be indiscreet about this sensitive subject but it looks as if this terrible matter is starting to become an issue for a growing number of men of all different economic and academic backgrounds, who get caught in what appears to be a sting operation which could potentially scar them for life. I have seen families falling apart, and men having to move to a different town and even acquire a new identity.
Chances are that this is the first time you are hearing about this issue and that what is to follow as you read on has no direct relevance to you at all. In fact, you might even be a woman and this story is about men being groomed online.
Later on, you will see why we have decided to make all our clients and colleagues aware of this terrible issue and if, as I expect, this subject is completely foreign to you, please do pass this note to other men you know and care about. You could be doing them a big favour.
We hear a lot about young girls being groomed on the internet by older men. This is of course one of the most disturbing subjects concerning internet use. What we do not hear about however, and what you are just about to discover as you read on, is the ease by which men, of all ages, are being groomed by women over the internet, having their photos, videos and personal details stolen and then spread over websites of a certain nature all over the world.
In short, there are some free forums on the internet for people to chat about anything and everything. Naturally these forums tend to be regarded as ‘meeting places’ where people talk to strangers, exchange ideas and look for relationships, virtual or otherwise. One of these forums is called Chatabox. You can join up for free and then, you can start chatting immediately. You can chat to almost anyone who is online at the time. I am not singling out Chatabox and I do not suggest the website owners are doing anything wrong. There are other similar websites which offer free chat and Chatabox is a very popular one and all those who came to me for advice following their horrific experience which I will describe below, have mentioned Chatabox as the place where their nightmare started.
Many men whether rich or poor, married or single take part in chatting and in most cases quite innocently. It is just another way for many to relax from the days chores and have a relaxing conversation with other online chatters. It is normally a friendly place which at times, as you will find out, can become very dangerous indeed.
What many of these men don’t realise is that there are some dangerous predators out there, ready to eat them alive. Not literally but also not very far from that.
These dangerous predators I am talking about are women who have conspired to groom men and take them away from the chat site, where their identity can be revealed quite easily, to a private chat programme such as MSN Messenger , AOL Messenger or Yahoo Messenger, where they intend to seduce their victims into performing compromising acts, totally naked, in front of a webcam. Unbeknownst to their victims, the predator will capture the video, save it to their computer, edit it and then post it on hundreds of websites, the nature of which is obvious.
But there is still worse to come.
The way the operation appears to be working is this: initially the woman will hunt for her victim. She will try several men before finding one who appears to be naïve so far as internet usage is concerned. The predator women do not look for perverts or men who are regular visitors to certain type of websites as these men tend to be far more suspicious and much more discrete. They hunt for an easy prey instead.
Their typical victim will be a school teacher, a dentist or a police officer. The initial conversation will be very innocent. It tends to be about work, family, location and so on. Suspecting of nothing, the victim will often divulge their children’s names and the name of the company they work for. Naturally, once they have given this sort of information, the men become even more trusting. It is a psychological thing that sharing personal information accelerates the feelings of trust that we feel about our partner to the conversation.
Then the woman speaks about herself and surprise surprise it transpires she and her victim have a lot in common. They both might be a bit lonely, they both could have some marital difficulties to resolve and they both are likely to be craving for love and affection. Neither of them of course will contemplate having an extra marital affair mainly because of their loyalty to their family. At the suggestion of the woman predator, the conversation will then move to a private chat programme such as Yahoo Messenger or MSN Messenger. This will break the ‘continuity of evidence’. Whilst on the public chat, the parties can relatively easily be traced through their account registration details. This will be almost an impossible task with a private chat programme. The move from one chat programme to another will also break the link between the grooming and the shocking action which will follow.
The conversation will continue on the private chat programme and will turn more and more personal until it becomes purely suggestive. Eventually the victim will be encouraged to perform a compromising act on himself on camera so that the predator, whose job is almost done can “watch, participate and enjoy”. Once the compromising act is concluded the chat will come to its abrupt end by the predator simply switching off the programme at her end.
What happens next is very interesting and is probably beyond most people’s comprehension.
Following the video conversation which was fully recorded by the female predator onto her computer, she will compile several video clips and will give them titles such as
‘John Smith From 91 Cleveland Lane Road, London, A GP and Child Molester Fxxxg Himself In Front of School Children’ as well as other similarly colourful commentary.
She will then post these videos on to several websites including YouTube and distribute them to countless other websites all over the world.
The victim will wake up in the morning to a new reality. He will first find an interesting email in his mail box from an unknown email address with a short note by his predator and a video attachment.
Having watched the horrific video, most victims will immediately carry out an internet search against their own name only to discover that their worst fears have been materialised. By this time, the links which contain the videos have gathered so much popularity, especially following their distribution to the entire world by blogs and emails, that sometimes almost the entire first page of a Google search could be full of links to these videos, each time with a different title and commentary.
A total nightmare. If the victim is married, he will now need to speak to his wife and explain how he allowed this situation to happen. This you can imagine would be quite a challenging task in itself. It could be a matter of time before his employers will find out, the kids, other family members, the neighbours, business associates or even some thugs who would believe that he is really a child molester or a paedophile.
At this stage the victims normally seek legal advice. They want to know what would happen if or rather when certain people discover these videos, in particular their employers. With most employers, it is a sackable offence to bring their organisation into disrepute. Naturally, when we speak to the victims, many of them are in a state of extreme shock.
Before we deal with any other issue which troubles them, we give priority to the immediate removal of the videos from the several video hosting websites. This could be done fairly quickly but of course the sooner we act the better because as time goes by, the number of links tend to increase and so does the popularity of the videos, as well as the number of people who copy these videos onto their personal computer and could potentially redistribute them in the future. The removal of these videos does not however guarantee that they will not reappear in the future.
It is important that the victims sign up for a monitoring system which operates 24/7 to give early warnings of any future distribution of their compromising videos. Potentially, these videos can reappear on the internet at any time in the years to come. In any event, with the internet, it is all about speed speed speed so the priority is to have these videos removed from video hosts sites as quickly as possible.
I cannot tell for sure what is the precise motive behind the action of the predator woman, but having lately seen so many of these cases I have no doubt that there is indeed a system behind this operation and I am almost convinced that the female predators do this for money.
In legal terms, all the victims in such cases have a cause of action in the courts, particularly for breach of privacy. Although legal action could eventually lead us to the predators’ identity this would be very costly and will bring further unwanted attention to the matter, and with it, further reputational damage to the victims. In cases such as this, any publicity is bad publicity. The police are unlikely to be willing or able to intervene, mainly because of lack or resources and due to the fact that victims choose not to lodge a formal complaint.
I will leave it for your imagination to picture the devastation this could cause someone. I have seen male victims changing their name and moving to a different town in order to avoid detection. I also witnessed families falling apart and men feeling suicidal following their involvement as victims in this sting.
Legally, little can be done to go back in time. No level of compensation will persuade any man in his right mind to pursue such a matter through the courts. Sometimes keeping your head down is the best advice to follow.
What is left is for us to spread the word, inform the public and educate people to be more vigilant whilst chatting on the internet. You have to remember that the vast majority of the men who find their lives falling apart as a result of being groomed, are innocent victims who were perhaps guilty of being naïve or even a bit reckless, but are certainly not sexual offenders or perverts and do not deserve the potential life sentence which they may have to serve day in and day out.
I am not condoning the use of internet chats by married men to look for virtual extra marital affairs. This is a subject of another conversation. However, everyone would agree that it is important to educate both adults and children about some of the dangers of internet chat. These are the dark sides of our new global society and they are not likely to simply disappear. It is only by having people such as yourself passing on this information to others that we can make the internet a safer place for both ourselves and to the next generation.
More internet law updates that could affect you and people you know