Heath-Newton LLP Counselors at Law

Bay Area Family Law Blog


The Use of Emerging Technologies to Perpetrate Stalking and Domestic Violence is on the Rise

The use of emerging technologies to perpetrate stalking and domestic violence is on the rise. Facebook stalking is now a commonly used term. We’ve all read the news about GPS transmitters being placed on cars by stalkers, and email hacking – as reported by our clients – is now a fairly regular occurrence. Our office has even seen parties placing spyware on one another’s computers to track emails and passwords.

Some of these activities are illegal and can be stopped with restraining orders; others reside in that blurry gray area where enforcement can be a real challenge. Either way, it’s important to be aware of how to protect yourself, and if necessary how to collect the evidence you will need if you want a restraining order.

The following are our tips for how to prevent mishandling of your digital identity.

First and foremost, be sure your computer is not corrupted with malware or spyware. Modern spyware can track every single stroke on your keyboard and easily capture passwords, emails, and credit card information. We regularly advise our clients to open up new email accounts, but if you unwittingly have a key-stroke logger on your computer, it doesn’t matter how many accounts you have – they’re all compromised. There are spyware sweepers available online, but your best bet is to hire an IT professional to conduct the sweep for you.

Second, don’t give your stalker any information to feed upon. Don’t post your personal information online – it never goes away. Be absolutely sure your social networking privacy settings (meaning Facebook, etc.) are set to the most strict and preclusive available. If you believe you are at risk of stalking, never allow social networking services to track your location. Remember that many stalkers will pose as your friends and then have access to your friends-only information. You may need to delete your social networking services entirely if you believe you are at risk.

Third, never, ever, interact with your stalker. This only fuels the problem and clouds the question of whether you are the victim. Instead, document and report. Screen-capture anything that happens online. Save your emails. Tell your friends immediately when something happens so that you have a witness. Videotape. Record. Keep text messages and voicemails. And especially if you are in danger, call the police immediately every time you are stalked or harassed.

Once you have a body of evidence that shows a pattern of behavior, contact an experienced attorney and the police to report what has occurred. An effective lawyer can give you this and more advice, and can help you to obtain a restraining order. We handle quite a few of these cases in our office, so feel free to give us a call if you need any help.

Categories: Community Property, Custody, Divorce

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