Approximately four in ten Americans have experienced some kind of harassment on the internet. Diane, a Masthead member, recently wrote to us about her ex-boyfriend, who has been posting abuse about her online from another country. To offer Diane some advice, I reached out to a couple of experts: a law professor, the CEO of a cyber-security nonprofit, and another victim of cyberharassment. I’ll share an excerpt of Diane’s letter, and then tell you what the experts had to say.
My ex-boyfriend, who is Italian and living in the U.S., has turned into a very malevolent cyberstalker and cyberharasser. I am a British citizen, living in Hong Kong.
This mix of nationalities and countries of residence makes it difficult to deal with the situation: Which jurisdiction is relevant? Who will take interest in this and help me find a solution? The websites used by people like my ex allow anybody to post anything—material which is always slanderous—without ever checking facts and in the name of “freedom of expression.” It is then nigh on impossible to have these posts removed without going through lawyers, at vast expense. They are, in effect, extortion sites. Cyberstalking and cyberharassment are becoming more endemic and increasingly cross-border. International victims seem to fall between the cracks of national jurisdictions and national regulatory authorities.
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