DOJ Stalking Report Estimates Hundreds of Thousands of Electronic Privacy Invasions

The Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics last week reported on its survey: “Stalking Victimization in the United States.” The survey was composed of 65,000 responses, and led to a total estimate of 5.8 million victims: 3.4 million stalking, and 2.4 million for harassment. The study covers victimization occurring mostly in 2005: the responses were collected during the first half of 2006, and inquired about events in the previous 12 months. Of these 5.4 million victims, two hundred thousand were victimized by identity theft.

Significantly, the survey also showed that 23% of victims suffered some form of cyberstalking, and 6% suffered electronic monitoring such as spyware, bugging or video surveillance.

The estimated 138 thousand victims of spyware were probably victimized by the type of stalker spyware that EPIC complained to the FTC about.  I doubt that stalkers are writing their own software or using vulnerability scripts. I also suspect that the numbers have gone up in the 3 — now entering 4 — years since 2005.  The FTC has only now begun to look at stalker spyware, and the only previous action on it was DOJ’s prosecution of Loverspy.

I’m not surprised by the numbers showing cyberstalking using email, IM, or blogs. But I do find it interesting that 8.8% of  victims had Internet sites created about them. I suspect the cyberstalking numbers have also only increased — blog usage and providers are proliferating, and so are the ways that one can make a website about another. I’ve worked with two individuals who had false online dating profiles created, one repeatedly. In these and in other cases of cyberstalking, it’s important that lawyers representing them be aware of the victimization, can present it to the court in a manner that aids their case, and can craft remedies that address the victimization.

Posted: January 23, 2009 in: