New Legislation To Protect Young People – The Eraser Law

erase pastBased on new legislation passed by the state of California, starting in 2015 young people will be able to delete materials – text content, photos, videos – they posted on Internet web sites with the Eraser Law.  But the irony of this is young people who want to delete unpleasant memories of youthful indiscretions can do this right now if they want to.  What is the value of such a law, and are other states likely to pass similar laws?

The law provides that information posted by an individual can be easily deleted.  However, if the questionable content is spread virally across the Internet by others, the law no longer applies.  And the Internet automatically archives virtually everything on the net, so does the law apply here?  It appears this piece of legislation is in fact useless, given the unique nature and nuances of the Internet.

So what’s the message here?  First, young people must be aware that anything they post on the Internet may be there forever.  No Eraser law is likely to be strong enough to delete all possible appearances of questionable or embarrassing content.  And that content could destroy their chances of a future job or other important opportunity.  Employers and organizations that conduct background checks spend a lot of time researching a candidate’s web site activities, especially on social media sites.  Even a law like SB 586 may be ineffective in deleting potentially damaging evidence. 

Second, parents must remind their children of the pros and cons – and especially the risks – of using the Internet.  As a research tool the Internet can be invaluable.  Conversely, as a social platform it can range from fun to destructive.  Laws may help, but the most important message is one of caution and care, specifically for young people to exercise care in what they post on the Internet.

In the end, it comes down to being social the old fashion way, talk to your children – an email won’t cut it.

Cyberbullying – Additional Legislation Due July 1, 2013

ctl-keyAn update to a New York state law on bullying is set to be enacted July 1, 2013.  Additional provisions to the “Dignity for All Students Act” signed into law by Governor Cuomo in 2010, address the issues of cyberbullying, in which bullies are not restricted to the schoolyard, but rather can extend their harassment activities to social networks that young people use regularly.  The July 1 update to S7740:2011 says the following, with regard to cyberbullying:

“The legislature also recognizes that most cyberbullying originates off-campus, but nonetheless affects the school environment and disrupts the educational process, impeding the ability of students to learn and too often causing devastating effects on students’ health and well-being. The legislation addresses behavior that “occurs off school property and creates or would foreseeably create a risk of substantial disruption within the school environment…”

Cyberbullying includes where social networks are used to harass students “off school property” outside of the classroom or schoolyard.  Examples can be seen on the media almost every day.  But school districts may find it difficult to extend their influence beyond traditional places of learning, as mandated by this legislation.  In addition, other legislation, such as the Health Information Portability and Accounting Act, or HIPAA, limits the amount of information a school can obtain from a student that might be useful in bullying situations.  For example, schools are restricted on asking a student if he/she is on any specific medication or participating in a specialized health program (e.g., mental health) as this would be considered PHI, or protected health information.

In addition, social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, have demonstrated an unwillingness to release relevant information about a  user to the public (or school district) that  might help prevent a child’s suicide. They will only release information during exigent circumstances with a subpoena issued by a law enforcement agency.

The challenge then becomes a matter of somehow obtaining relevant information about students that might point to one or more of the potential issues we’ve been discussing, and then proactively using that information to protect the child (or children) in question and prevent (or significantly reduce) the likelihood of those events happening.  And even though New York laws encourage initiatives to address bullying in the classroom and on the schoolyard, they do not go far enough to provide tools to schools and parents that address situations occurring outside the classroom.  School administrators (and parents, too) need a comprehensive plan to identify cyberbullying risks before they escalate into something more deadly and outline an effective investigation plan to address this issue.

Kim Kardashian and social media stalking – What the average person needs to know

Kim Kardashian stalking

Celebrities have resources to react to stalking cases. Just yesterday, we saw Kim Kardashian contemplate the next steps in an ongoing case she has against a stalker who she retains a restraining order against. Her legal team will meet with law enforcement and determine future actions. I am sure more news stories will be developed as a result of this. But what, if anything, are the lessons the average person can learn from this situation?

Real victims suffer from the real impact of stalking. The vulnerability a victim feels cannot be described in words or a press conference. The impact is sufficient enough to cause over 130,000 victims a year to loose their jobs according to the US Department of Justice. Often the victims feel overwhelmed by the numerous methods used on them. They feel, and worse believe, something or someone is waiting around the corner to attack them. So severe is the distrust in some that callers often refuse to give us their name when making an appointment for a consultation for fear of being discovered.

As technology progresses, new and improved ways of stalking will become apparent. Technology has and always will outpace legislation. Early recognition is still the most important first step. What the Kardashian case reveals is the way in which social media can be used to stalk a person. Whether or not a posting on other peoples Twitter account or other social media sites is a violation of the restraining order is yet to be determined. More importantly the lesson to be learned from this case is the revelation of a new avenue to be stalked from. The victim needs to actively monitor social networking sites to determine what other avenues are being explored by the stalker to his or her advantage. The context of the postings is critical and should be analyzed to determine the possible intent of the stalker.

It forces the victim to have to think “outside the box” to determine other ways she may be vulnerable… after putting up “four walls” to protect her self.

Protecting Victims of Stalking from Themselves

Social Network Stalking

Stalking today is growing at an epidemic rate. Advances in technology make it easier than ever to stalk someone. As we have seen in recent months, the use of Facebook and Twitter can be a great source of information on someone. The agony is the victim is posting the information themselves. Just how dangerous is this? It’s just harmless postings right? Who really cares?

Your stalker cares. All day long individuals “tweet” and post information about themselves. By itself, who cares where you had coffee this morning. Who cares if you were late for your gym class?

Protecting Victims of Stalking from Themselves

Take a print out of your last few months’ postings. Look at it the way an analyst would. You will find more information than you ever thought possible. Separate the topics you mention into different columns. It becomes easy to figure out your schedule, your favorite places, your friends, your habits. What’s worse, some services have GPS locations associated with it. Not only do I know where you are, but I can get a picture of the area and location.

Being stalked is a terrifying experience. Recognizing it is occurring is the first step. Recognizing how vulnerable you make yourself is something you need to learn. Your stalker already has.

Sandra Bullock Stalker – Lessons learned

Sandra Bullock

The events surrounding this case are not any different from the nearly six million cases a year the epidemic known as stalking produces. What makes this case stand out is the celebrity of the victim.

Sandra Bullock Stalker – Lessons learned

What should the average person do when faced with this type of situation? For starters, it has been reported the case is on-going since 2003. Understand this is typical in most stalking situations. The case drags on for years and becomes debilitating for the victim. It can become so debilitating in fact, that over 130,000 victims loose their jobs annually according to the most recent US Department of Justice report on Stalking.

Secondly, he has been sending emails and faxes to her over recent years. If you are in receipt of letters and faxes, do not throw them out. As upsetting as they may be, it is important to keep them as evidence. More importantly, they are a great source to analyze the thoughts the stalker is having at that point in time. It is not uncommon for the writings to become more vulgar, more offensive and ultimately demonstratively obscene. This can be a pre indication of potential violence.

Finally, while there are many steps and issues to contend with in a stalking case, understand the subject of the investigation is really “not in his right mind”. Most stalking victims who turn to me for assistance always wonder why “someone in their right mind would do this”. Most stalkers suffer from some degree of mental disease or defect. Unfortunately, you cannot apply logic to an illogical situation when trying to understand what’s going on. Victims should use an advocate very familiar with stalking investigations to guide them through the very long and tumultuous course of events.

Stalker Series Blog – Should I Change My Phone Number?

Change telephone number

Often times, victims of stalking try to distance themselves from the stalker by changing their phone number or email address. While this may be a short term solution, it often has a different effect and can cause certain impediments to the case.

First, get another phone number and give that new number to only very close friends and people you can trust and who know about your situation. Next, let all messages from the stalker go directly to voice mail. This helps in a couple of areas.

By recording voice mails, you are building up evidence against the stalker. Each call is a documented instance of the crime. Additionally, trained investigators can assess the messages to see if there has been an increase in volatility and attempt to determine the potential for violence against the victim. Without these recordings, we would never know the possible mental state of the stalker.

In most cases, it is recommended that you cease all dialog with the stalker after you made your firm “no further contact” statement. Once that is done, collect as much evidence as you can and keep great details about the stalking case.

Next article – presenting case to law enforcement

Stalker Series Blog… Are you a victim of Stalking? Continuing series on tips to stop a stalker…. Today – How detailed logs can help

Stalking

Are you a victim of stalking? This series of blog entries examines what you can do to help yourself. Today – How detailed logs can help

Once you recognize you have a stalking situation, it is time to start to do something about it. It is at this point frustration settles in and you become angry. Often, the victim will go to law enforcement and attempt to file a complaint. Being prepared for this meeting will be very helpful in getting your case started in the right direction.

At the point you realize you have a problem, start a detailed log. Keep records of all calls, emails, texts and any other items received from the stalker. Having this information will assist law enforcement in putting together an effective case. Merely saying that you have been called “thousands of times” will not help.

Today’s law enforcement community is more aware and sympathetic to a crime that was normally overlooked. Legislation has been passed in 50 States to help protect the victim of Stalking. Being a well informed, well prepared witness will greatly reduce the level of frustration to you and will help develop an active investigation.

Next segment: Should I change my telephone number?

Stalker Series Blog… Are you a victim of Stalking? Continuing series on tips to stop a stalker….

Stalking

Stalking is at an epidemic level today. The advance of technology has made the crime of stalking much easier; a personal approach from a greater distance with greater ease of frequency. Many victims feel frustrated and defenseless in dealing with the prolonged agony of a stalking case.  In today’s first segment, we will examine the very first steps you need to take in dealing with a stalker. Future segments will deal with additional steps you can take.

 

Early recognition of the problem is critical in stalking cases. Often, victims refuse to be considered rude and do not aggressively react to the uncomfortable feelings they are getting from an unwanted suitor. Setting a firm boundary is not rude if the person you are uncomfortable with is acting irrationally or obsessive. If your instinct is telling you something is wrong, then you are probably right! Don’t have friends, or worse yourself, talk you out of what you are feeling.

 

Telling the person a firm “no”, based on fact and not emotion, is a practical and effective way for you not to feel guilty about your actions. Stalkers will try to make you feel guilty about what you are saying or doing. It is important you understand this and react accordingly.

Telephone Spoofing – A Tool Used by Stalkers to Stalk Victims

Telephone fraud

Imagine getting a call from the Police Department you just made a report to about being stalked. The caller ID says it’s from the Police Department, a number you recognize. You talk to the Detective assigned, give your additional personal information and feel safe knowing someone is working on the case. Congratulations, you have just been “spoofed”

 

Telephone spoofing is the technique used by perpetrators to make you believe they are calling from a number known to you. The technology is so damaging that when you hang up the call and dial the number showing on caller ID, it rings thru to what it said on caller ID. If you think the Police are calling you, when you dial it back, the Police Department will answer.  

 

Currently, legislation has been introduced in Washington, DC. If passed, violators can be subject to a $10,000 fine and a year in prison. It is about time the laws catch up with the technological advances.

Telephone Spoofing – A Tool Used by Stalkers to Stalk Victims