The process of diligently and continually following someone’s activity online. The designation of stalking can be applied whether or not the stalker and target know one another in person. Digital traces, data and other markers of our participation that show up on social media platforms and other websites have made stalking in the digital age a much easier task. As much as in the physical world, consequences on the targeted individual can vary, but could include an increased sense of insecurity, fear and the perception of an invasion of privacy.
Stalking, in the Criminal Code, is identified as a criminal offence (art. 138a), carrying that sanctions for not only the act of stalking but also for unlawful collection of someone else’s personal data, as a preliminary offence, prior to the instance(s) of stalking. However, the article does stipulate that to constitute stalking, the incident(s) must take place for a specified period of time. The intensity of stalking, and consequences felt by the target are not of critical relevance, but could be taken into account by the court during criminal proceedings.
If the incidence(s) of stalking fail to meet the time stipulates laid out in the Criminal Code art. 138a, then article 138 - Endangering safety - could also offer protections against acts that result in fear for one’s safety, and provides stricter sanctions if the target is a (female) journalist.
In this case, public prosecutors and police are mandated to follow up, investigate and responsible for protection. As the filing party, you are responsible for collecting evidence needed for filing the criminal charges.
It is easier than ever to conduct private surveillance of public digital spaces using a number of different methods. For this reason, it is important to ensure that your tech-devices (phones, computers, smart speakers/doorbells, etc) and check if options (e.g. location, privacy settings) are best protected (turning off location tracking, strict privacy setting) and limited in their ability to share private data.
As with all types of assault, targets of stalking should inform friends, family, partners and colleagues about the harassment, so you have a bigger network of support. If online stalking moves offline, to the physical world, you should immediately inform police and request protection.
Check out these resources for improving your digital safety.Digital evidence Password Authentication Recovery account Phone/Tablet Location Safety Support Identity Computer/Laptop Criminal charges Stalking