Electronic Stalking and Tech Safety
Just as our society as a whole has grown increasingly reliant on electronic and digital means of communication, technology has been incorporated into both stalking behaviors and available remedies to respond to stalking.
One of the advantages for intimate partner stalkers who use technology to stalk is that it is constantly changing, making it difficult for responders to stay informed of the latest exploitations and misuses of technology. Thus, ongoing training should be given high priority. For victims experiencing stalking and abuse via technology, there are best practices which can be incorporated into safety plans to reduce the likelihood of further incidents. More information on safety planning around tech issues is provided on page 48 of the 2017 Georgia Domestic Violence Fatality Review Annual Report.
- Ask victims if they believe their offenders are using, or have ever used, technology to track or monitor them.
- Encourage victims to search for their name and images online and remove any information which could compromise safety. Google alerts can be easily set up by victims to monitor information that appears about them online.
- Assist the victim in removing online information which may make it easier for the stalker to locate them. Online services, such as Safe Shepherd, provide this service for victims for free of charge. Visit safeshepherd.com/advocates for more information.
- If the victim’s technology has been compromised, encourage them to consider restoring their device to factory settings. This practice will minimize the likelihood that spyware or malware will remain present on the device.
- To avoid tipping off the stalker to the victim’s belief they are being monitored, consider keeping potentially compromised technology active, but use safer technology to communicate about plans the stalker should not know about. For example, while developing a safety plan the victim may want to use a computer at a public library to communicate with an advocate, rather than using a computer the stalker may have access to.
- In the event the stalker has been using misleading caller ID information, by way of spoofing apps or other technology, they may be in violation of the Truth in Caller ID Act of 1999. In those instances, filing a complaint against the stalker with the FCC may be an option. Visit consumercomplaints.fcc.gov or contact the FCC by phone at 1-888-CALL-FCC for more information.