- What is online harassment?
Online harassment simply means facing aggressive pressure or intimidation online. It can easily affect your mental health. Legally speaking, online harassment comes in three kinds: cyber-harassment, cyberstalking and cyber-bullying.
Unfortunately, there is no universal definition for cyber-harassment. Basically, cyber-harassment is using internet or mobile technology for repeated, unsolicited, threatening behaviour. It can be a person or group wanting to bother, terrify, intimidate, harass or stalk someone.
Cyberstalking means using Internet and technology to stalk someone. Generally speaking, it involves a pattern of threatening or malicious behaviour. In other words, if you are receiving repeated e-mails, posts or texts, unwanted phone calls, then you have a reason to believe that you are a victim of cyberstalking.
You’re a victim of cyber-bullying when someone uses online tools to bully you. It could mean nasty or threatening texts, e-mails or social media posts.
Who registered the first case against cyberstalking?
The first case on cyberstalking was registered by Ritu Kohli in Delhi. She was a victim of identity theft on a social networking website. The accused Manish Kathuria, a software engineer posted her contact details online and encouraged people to call her at odd hours.
Kohli received around 40 calls within just three days. Finally, to put an end to her ordeal, Kathuria was arrested by Delhi Police in 2001. He was charged for outraging the modesty of his victim. Sadly, the Indian Penal Code did not include internet crimes back then. Finally, Kohli moved out of India and the case was dropped.
What’s the punishment for online harassment?
The first ever conviction for online harassment in India was in late 2015. This was fifteen years after the Information Technology Act came into existence. The punishment can vary from imprisonment up to three years and more or a penalty.
According to the 2015 case, the victim (name undisclosed) and accused Yogesh Prabhu spoke to each other on an online networking site Orkut in 2009. However, on one occasion, Prabhu sent her obscene messages. She immediately removed him from her friend list to avoid any further trouble.
After a few days, she received an email with foul and objectionable language from an unknown person. She continued to receive these emails over a period of time. Eventually, she lodged a complaint with the joint commissioner of police, which led to Prabhu's imprisonment.
Are there any tricks to tackle online harassment?
To be on the safer side, always be careful while using a public computer. You may unknowingly give stalkers the information they need to harass you by saving your passwords. Clean the data of your computers and mobiles before donating, selling or getting rid of them.
In spite of the fact that cyberstalking is a virtual crime, it can impact your real life in dangerous ways. Not all stalkers are mentally ill. They could just try to even a score or want to get something from you. Contrary to popular belief, cyberstalking is never victimless or a white-collar crime. If you feel you are a victim of cyberstalking, you must report it.
How can you report online harassment?
If you are facing any form of abuse or harassment online, you must register a written complaint to the nearest cyber cell in the city. In case there are no cyber cells, you can file an FIR in the local police station. If the police station does not accept your complaint, you can refer your complaint to the commissioner or judicial magistrate of the city.
Your statement should be recorded in privacy. Also, if a woman approaches the police station to report cyberstalking, she is entitled to a legal counsel to help her file a case.
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