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What kind of behavior constitutes cyberstalking?

Given the continually evolving nature of the Internet and cyber communications, many people find themselves grappling with issues like online etiquette and personal space. It can be increasingly difficult to recognize when online interactions are inappropriate unless or until real complaints are made. That is why it is important for you and other Grand Forks residents who use any form of online communication to be aware of the types of conduct that can be considered cyberstalking under the law.

The National Institute of Justice explains that while cyberstalking is recognized as a serious offense in its own right, it is increasingly being recognized by law enforcement agencies and regulators as a precursor to physical stalking crimes. That may be because the two offenses are very similar in nature. Stalking is generally understood to be any form of repeated conduct, such as written, verbal or implied threats, aimed at a specific person and intended to cause fear. Stalking does not have to involve actual physical contact, and typically revolves around the offender attempting to control or exhibit power over his or her victim.

Cyberstalking shares many of the same characteristics as physical stalking, and involves one party imposing him or herself upon another party in an unsolicited or harassing manner. Cyberstalking relies upon the use of electronic devices such as computers and cell phones, and often revolve around online communications. Posting real or fake information on behalf of someone else in order to receive a response can be considered cyberstalking in many cases. Beyond that, a person who uses information found online to threaten or otherwise intimidate an intended victim may be accused of cyberstalking under certain circumstances.

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