Cyberstalking: The crime of stalking in digital media

We all know famous cases of persecutors who did not leave their idols alone, and followed them everywhere. People who unfortunately, most of the time, suffer from psychiatric problems and who spare no effort to try to win the sympathy of their “objects of worship”.

Often the victims are famous people, whose prominent positions always attract more visibility, and one of the most famous cases is that of singer John Lennon, who was killed in 1980 by his fan Mark David Chapman in Central Park, New York . Even today, at the place, fans gather to remember his memory and sing several of his songs.

However, this does not mean that ordinary people like you and I cannot be victims of these people, since it is not known what can trigger an obsession so serious that the person starts to persecute us. It can be envy, jealousy, anger, hatred, obsessive love, among others, but anyway, in most situations some mental pathology is present.

There are many people who believe that this is mimimi, but imagine being psychologically intimidated by a person you sometimes don’t even know or who wants to forget you ever met, but who chases you, calls you more than 50 times a day, who knows every step you take, the clothes you wear and the way your hair looks today! That’s terrible. I hope neither I nor you are victims of this type of crime.

It’s a crime! It’s not mimimi and it’s no use slapping the person – as I’ve heard some ignorant people suggest, because that’s also a crime – article 129 of the Penal Code[1].

But with the ever-faster advancement of technology, and the exposure of our private lives on social media, it just gets easier.

This is because, in search of recognition, human beings feel the need to show themselves; to say where you are and who you are with; how he has fun and the places he goes; to show your personal tastes, and this is where the crime of stalking or cyberstalking appears and develops, because under the supposed anonymity and the facilitation of technological means, it is possible to follow every step of the “stalked” person (this verb does not exist , but has been used frequently).

Until March 2021, this type of conduct was not considered a crime, and the victim had nothing to do, as it sought the Police Authority and had not been the victim of a “real” crime such as a threat , rape (not rape, see), attempted murder, home invasion, there was no crime. It’s easy? It means that something more serious would have to happen so that a police report could be filed and then measures could be taken.

And worst of all, as the victims could not draw up a police report, the persecutors became more and more encouraged and the worst could happen. That’s over!

Law 14.132/2021, typified (created) the crime of persecution, including article 147-A of the Penal Code of Brazil. Now, anyone who pursues another to the point that she can no longer go to the places she used to go without feeling threatened or watched, or if she doesn’t stop phoning and sending e-mails insistently, can go to chess and still having to keep a certain distance from the victim, and if he disrespects that order, then he could be arrested.

The expression stalking is derived from the English verb “stalk”, which means to chase. For this type of crime to be configured, it is necessary that the person, for example, make several phone calls to the numbers of his “victim”, follow him through the streets and frequent the same places he frequents, send gifts, flowers, between others.

But after all, what can be considered cyberstalking?

In cyberstalking, everything is done through the use of technology, such as sending insistent messages on social networks, emails, tracking and monitoring the victim’s steps, invasion of computers and smartphones, installation of remote surveillance cameras, use from the victim’s e-mails to register on various websites, where he starts to receive pornographic content or hundreds of product offer links.

It is also very common to use photographs to create fake profiles on dating and dating sites, or even on social networks, in order to damage the image of the person, who becomes harassed by other people who believe that they were the ones registered.

This type of harassment has no limits, and all forms of invasion of her and her family’s privacy can be considered “cyberstalking” and should be reported. And even if the Civil Police eventually refuses to draw up the police report (yes, unfortunately this happens), do not be intimidated and demand that the occurrence be made and provide as much data as you can about who is stalking you and inform what are the facts that are taking place with all the details.

It gets worse when this persecution is against a child, teenager or elderly person, or when it is against a woman just because she is a woman, and if two or more people get together to practice the persecution.

A very important tip is to keep your social media profile closed and only add people you know (unless you’re a celebrity), and don’t give your personal details to anyone, unless it’s extremely necessary, but remember that by LGPD, if you don’t want to, you don’t need to provide your data to buy products, get discounts or to exchange something you bought.

Advise the people who live with you to have the same attitude and ensure that the children are following these same rules.

Do a fine-tooth comb on your social networks and exclude people you don’t know or with whom you don’t keep in touch anymore, and above all, never put your contact data, address and telephone number, on social networks. These are basic steps you can take to stop a cyberstalker from stalking you.

[1]Art. 129. Offending the bodily integrity or health of others:  Penalty – detention, from three months to one year.

“Persecution Art. 147-A. Persecuting someone repeatedly and by any means, threatening their physical or psychological integrity, restricting their ability to move around or, in any way, invading or disturbing their sphere of freedom or privacy. Penalty – imprisonment, from 6 (six) months to 2 (two) years, and fine. § 1 The penalty is increased by half if the crime is committed: I – against a child, teenager or elderly person; II – against women for reasons of the female gender, under the terms of § 2-A of art. 121 of this Code; III – through competition of 2 (two) or more people or with the use of a weapon. § 2  The penalties of this article are applicable without prejudice to those corresponding to violence. § 3  Only proceeds upon representation.”

Geek and lawyer, passionate about technology since childhood. He was the first on the street to have internet at home in 1994 and specialized in Computer Law in Brazil and Portugal. Today, he is a Professor of the same subject at several institutions, having been Executive Coordinator of the Post-Graduate Program at ESA/SP. He is a partner at Elias Filho Advogados – @eliasfilhoadv, a lawyer for several technology companies in Brazil and abroad.

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