Learn to recognize cyberstalking, cyber-harassment, cyber-spying, and cyberbullying early on. “Cyber” refers to the use of computers to stalk, harass, or spy on someone. When the internet, or some electronic means, is used to stalk or harass a person, then it is known as cyberstalking. cyber-harassment involves using email, instant messaging, blogs, and the like, to torment and harass someone — the torment is very real to the victim of this electronic activity. In Arizona, cyberstalking is criminal harassment. Here is an excerpt of Arizona’s anti-harassment statute, A.R.S. § 13-2921:
“A person commits harassment if, with intent to harass or with knowledge that the person is harassing another person, the person:
“1. Anonymously or otherwise communicates or causes a communication with another person by verbal, electronic, mechanical, telegraphic, telephonic or written means in a manner that harasses…”
Spying is espionage, or clandestine surveillance. Spying involves obtaining information secretively, without permission from the person who holds that information. Cyber-spying involves using computer technology and electronic devices to secretly obtain that intelligence. The wrongful, intentional, and deliberate eavesdropping on other people who are communicating between themselves is a crime. Such deliberate interception of oral or electronic communications can result in felony charges under A.R.S. § 13-3005.
In Arizona, eavesdropping on an electronic communication includes a transfer of data or intelligence by computer or telephone. A person may commit a crime by intentionally eavesdropping on another’s communication, even if one of the parties to the conversation is a spouse. When someone eavesdrops on an oral or electronic communication, without consent, then this act of listening-in is spying.
The felony act of communication interception — spying — is perpetrated by intentionally intercepting another’s communication without consent, either by electronic means or by the use of some other person to accomplish the same end. A felony may also be committed by tricking, or conniving, a communication service provider into disclosing the content of another’s electronic communication. Even the possession of a device that could be used to intercept an electronic or oral communication, with the intent to use it, may be a criminal act.
No matter how innocent a party’s motivation is in attempting to acquire evidence for a family law case — spying or cyber-spying on the other party’s private communications, without their knowledge or consent, is a bad idea. If you’re in a divorce, do not spy on opposing party’s computer or email, doing so can seriously undermine your case, or result in your being charged with a crime. If you feel that the opposing party may have access to your computer passwords, social media accounts, or email, then immediately change your passwords and open a new email account.
We hear more and more about online bullying of children by other children. Many states have enacted specific cyberbullying laws to prohibit this type of harassment between minors. Arizona has an anti-cyberbullying statute that, when violated, can result in punishment of a petty offense or even a class 2 misdemeanor. Here’s an excerpt of A.R.S. § 8-309:
“A. It is unlawful for a juvenile to intentionally or knowingly use an electronic communication device to transmit or display a visual depiction of a minor that depicts explicit sexual material.
“B. It is unlawful for a juvenile to intentionally or knowingly possess a visual depiction of a minor that depicts explicit sexual material and that was transmitted to the juvenile through the use of an electronic communication device.
“C. It is not a violation of subsection B of this section if all of the following apply:
“1. The juvenile did not solicit the visual depiction.
“2. The juvenile took reasonable steps to destroy or eliminate the visual depiction or report the visual depiction to the juvenile’s parent, guardian, school official or law enforcement…”
Not every state has an anti-cyberbullying statute like Arizona. States may apply their existing laws, however, to prohibit this form of electronic and online activity to protect children from being threatened, harassed, and bullied by other juveniles. If you believe that your child is being cyberbullied, then immediately contact your local police or county sheriff and report the incident.