Crime, Enforcement and Personal Responsibility in the On-line World 
                       by Barbara Jenson / May 1996

With an exponential rise in computer usage for communication, many people
from all walks of life are discovering the virtual community of the
Internet.[1] This on-line world that was once almost exclusively utilized
by government and educational institutions has now linked the average
person to "Cyberspace"[2 ]with the growth of commercial on-line services
such as Prodigy and Compuserve.

As in any community that attracts a myriad of different personalities, the
"virtual community"[3]takes the good with the bad. As the use of this
technology increases so does the abuse, and the law is finding it difficult
to keep pace.[4]

One area that has increasingly become the focus of attention is strangers
who interact via "chat rooms" and E-mail.[5] In the absence of legislation
to control this activity, many people are experiencing what this article
will refer to as "cyberstalking".[6] Many people, especially women, are
being harassed and threatened by unwanted E-mail[7] and messages posted on
bulletin board services[8] by people they have interacted with on the
Internet.[9] Victims of this crime cannot be adequately protected due to
the lack of enforceable laws to prosecute and deter this behavior. Because
E-mail is used daily by what some experts say are as many as 35 million
people,[10] and it is estimated that there are approximately 200,000
stalkers in the United States,[11] the Internet is a perfect forum with
which to terrorize their victims. The fact that the Internet is practically
unregulated assures cyberstalkers virtual immunity from accountability for
their crime.[12] The lack of face to face interaction with their victims
can encourage someone who would not ordinarily behave in such a fashion to
act out their fantasies. The only recourse left to the victim is to take
the responsibility for being a member of this community, and protect one's

The purpose of this article is to examine the current stalking laws and how
they can, or cannot, be applied to the crime of stalking on the Internet.
First is a summary of the current laws on stalking, focusing on the states
that include stalking by computer. Second is a discussion of the concerns
with the current state of the law. Third is a comment on the problems
involved in enforcement of these laws. And fourth, this article takes the
position that, even if regulation is possible, and I assert that it is not,
it is not necessary if the people who utilize it take responsibility for

I. The Current State of the Law

California was the first state to enact a law making stalking a crime.
Following the murders of a prominent actress and, in unrelated cases, five
other women in Orange County who were slain by former intimates who stalked
them, California recognized the inadequacy of current laws to protect a
stalking victim. Law enforcement was unable to act against a stalker until
they had actually harmed the victim physically. In many cases, the first
incident of harm resulted in the death of the victim.[13]

In 1990, California reacted by passing the nation's first stalking law.[14]
This law makes it a crime to repeatedly harass or follow another person
along with making a "credible threat" that puts that person in reasonable
fear for their safety or the safety of their immediate family. Since that
time, 49 other states have enacted similar laws[15] or revised old laws to
encompass stalking.

Of those states that have passed anti-stalking legislation, only seven have
language that deals directly with stalking by computer.[16] The federal
government recently passed an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934,
changing the language to include computers as a telecommunications
device.[17] Twenty-one other states have statutes with wording that could
be applied in the cyberspace context.[18] This is due to the inclusion of
the act of written communication or the use of the telephone as a tool for
harassment. Since written communication is necessary on the computer, E-
mail conforms to the requirement of written communication. Because the
Internet is a network of computers linked by telephone lines, the argument
could be made that technically it is a form of telephone communication.
This would of course, exclude business networks connecting each terminal
directly, and enables each user to send inter-office E-mail. 

The twenty-two other states with stalking laws deal primarily with the
physical act of following the victim and it would be more difficult to
analogize these laws to stalking in cyberspace. Therefore, this article
will address the concerns brought about by the stalking statutes in the
seven states that are directly applicable to harassment by computer.[19]

II. Concerns with the Current State of the Law

One of the problems with these laws is that many of them were hastily
enacted. Most states used the California model but omissions and variations
have altered the scope of these laws making them too narrow to be effective
or too vague and/or overbroad.[20] They are therefore being challenged
constitutionally because they are unclear and may proscribe
constitutionally protected conduct.[21]

This is the main problem with the government attempting to regulate the
basic rights of people to express themselves. There seems to be a major
conflict between what people want to say and what the government would like
them to hear. Often regulations that are enacted under the guise of
"protection for our children" are meant to stifle a person's ability to tap
into the free flow of information that could loosen the grip the government
has developed in an effort to control. Many times, the protection of what
we love (our children, spouses, etc.) is what will be used to justify the
control in an attempt to exploit our emotions and cloud our thinking.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court of the United States can, at times, help
protect us from those who would see us remain ignorant.

The "void for vagueness" doctrine of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to
the U.S. Constitution require that a criminal statute must be definite
enough so that the ordinary person can understand, and therefore have
notice of, what conduct is prohibited. Another requirement is that the law
have specific standards to prevent arbitrary enforcement. The Supreme Court
has found that a mens rea[22] element helps to avoid the vagueness
challenge but with some statutes, certain innocent behavior may fall under
the proscription of the law.[23] This may leave the law enforcement
agencies with too much discretion. 

One way the law can avoid the vagueness problem is to require a specific
intent to cause the proscribed harm, whether that be fear of physical
injury or death, or substantial emotional distress[24]. The overbreadth
problem could be remedied by excluding constitutionally protected
activities. The ideal law, if that can exist, would also be very specific
in defining the terms used as to avoid problems with ambiguities and
discriminatory enforcement.[25]

III. Enforcement of Stalking Laws as they Apply to Cyberspace

It has been said that the Internet is the "first empirically lawless domain
of modern life."[26] Even with the most carefully crafted legislation,
enforcing a law in a virtual community creates unique problems never before
faced by law enforcement agencies. 

One of the most obvious problems with laws that attempt to regulate
behavior on the Internet is with jurisdiction. The Internet links people
around the world. A person who harasses a woman in Connecticut could live
in Germany. Assuming that a problem with a cyberstalker takes place in the
U.S. how is a person convicted of a crime in state A when the perpetrator
has never set foot in State A? If the cyberstalker lived in a state where
the act of physically harassing someone was an element of the crime, would
the stalker have even violated his states laws? Could he be held
accountable under the laws of a state which would have to extradite to
enforce? With the exception of Delaware, that considers a first offense a
felony, of the seven states[27] that specifically include electronic
stalking in their statute, the first offense is considered a misdemeanor.
It is unlikely that extradition would take place. Attempts to regulate a
community that exists without physical boundaries could be like trying to
regulate what a person can dream.

One way this jurisdictional problem could be solved in the United States
would be to prosecute under the federal law that prohibits obscenity or
harassment using interstate telecommunications devices.[28] One of the
problems with this statute is that it does nothing to help the victim being
harassed by an international stalker. Especially if that person cannot be

The federal law also requires that, in order to support a conviction under
this statute, a specific intent to harass is necessary[29], and the calls
must be made in close enough proximity to be called a single episode, made
solely to harass[30]. This could be interpreted to mean that a person who
sends E-mail messages that the receiver finds annoying, harassing, or
alarming, may not be actionable under this statue if the sender had no
intent to harass, annoy or alarm. One man's poison may be another man's

Another problem that law enforcement faces, is the identification of a
cyberstalker. Gary Jackson, director of academic computing at Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, says that if you receive an ordinary piece if E-
mail, there is no absolute way of establishing who sent it.[31] Others can
access a computer account by using the password, which is often not kept
secret by the person authorized to use the account.[32] The rise of
"anonymous remailers"[33] makes it even more unlikely that a person who
wishes to remain anonymous will have his identity discovered. Remailers are
on-line services that provide a guarantee that messages can't be traced to
their sources.[34] This makes determining the identity of the cyberstalker
difficult if not impossible. Even if remailers are banned in the U.S.,
foreign countries would make the service available, as is already the case
in Finland. This makes it very difficult for a prosecutor to carry the
burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a particular person is
responsible for the communication. In Cyberspace there are no fingerprints,
hair fibers or bloody gloves.

Another potential problem, if the state laws are used, is with the laws
that require, as an element of the crime of stalking, a credible
threat[35]. This means that the perpetrator must have the intent and
ability to carry out the threat. Many victims of E-mail harassment are not
threatened with physical injury and, because a stalker may remain
anonymous, may have no idea if the threat they do receive is credible.
Connecticut has attempted to remedy this by requiring only intent to
harass, annoy or alarm.[36] This however, does not address the stalker who
is obsessed with the unrequited love of their victim, with no intent to
harass, annoy or alarm. And a person who sends an E-mail message with the
intent to harass someone, such as someone sending a "flame"[37] being
charged with a federal or state crime, may be difficult to enforce. Even if
a jury could be convinced that the sentence for such an action wasn't too
harsh, which might be the case if the jury of peers includes Arianna
Huffington, First Amendment scrutiny may further complicate an attempt to
enforce these laws. [38]

Wyoming requires a "course of conduct"[39] which requires a series of acts
over any period of time evidencing a continuity of purpose to cause a
reasonable person substantial emotional distress.[40] This would seem to
require that a person send harassing E-mail on more than one occasion with
the intent to harm emotionally. This may be a solution to the problem of
including the one time "flame" sender but what constitutes "substantial
emotional distress"? Terms that make the law unclear may eventually be made
more clear when interpreted by the courts from case law. But because of the
previously discussed problems with anonymity, jurisdiction, and vagueness,
we may never have any case law on point when it comes to cyberspace.

The Connecticut statute prohibits the intention to harass, annoy or alarm
another person.[41] What exactly is the proscribed behavior that annoys or
alarm someone? Once again there may be vagueness problems with what exactly
the behavior is that is proscribed.[42]

The Wyoming statute exempts some constitutionally protected behavior,[43]
but fails to encompass other constitutionally protected activity. Eugene
Volokh, acting professor at the University of California-Los Angeles Law
School, said that depending on the circumstances, following someone,
standing outside someone's house or calling someone on the telephone may be
a simple expression of free speech.[44]

Many of the statutes require that a person be in reasonable fear of
physical harm.[45] This may allow someone to continue to send harassing E-
mail as long as they don't make a threat or imply that they will hurt their
victim physically. Often, cyberstalkers subject their victims to harassment
that is more annoying than threatening, but it is possible that when the
cyberstalker begins to realize that the victim has little recourse, it may
escalate into something that causes a victim a severe amount of emotional
distress, without ever fearing for their physical safety.

One remedy the victim of stalking may pursue is a civil action suit against
the cyberstalker. This would be difficult if the stalker was unknown, but
often a victim has had previous contact with their tormentor before it rose
to the level of harassment.[46] Many times the stalker is someone that a
victim meets through a chat room or has known from another source.[47] This
would make a civil action easier to pursue but it would certainly be a
challenge if the stalker lived out of state. The personal jurisdiction
problem could be an obstacle unless a court could be convinced that sending
E-mail was a sufficient minimum contact.[48] One must be realistic in the
ability or desirability of state intrusion to solve problems that people
should be able to handle on their own. If we are to have a society
relatively free from government intrusion, we must not rely on the
government to solve certain problems we may have with personal
interactions. A citizen of the Web has a responsibility to that community
to act responsibly and solve problems without calling on the government to

The question of damages could be a challenge also. A claim of invasion of
privacy or intentional infliction of emotional distress could be causes of
action in a civil suit. And in the case of the out of state stalker, a
victim may be able to claim damages high enough to meet the minimum $50,000
amount in controversy for a diversity suit in federal court. Unfortunately,
the rigid requirements to recover in a tort action may make it difficult
for victims to demonstrate emotional damages of such a large amount.[49]
The cost to the victim of litigating a tort claim may preclude many from
initiating the suit regardless of the emotional damages suffered.

If the E-mail was sent to a co-worker over the office network, an action
for sexual harassment may offer a remedy to the victim. The U.S. Supreme
Court recognizes hostile environment sexual harassment and its effect on
the emotional and psychological stability of employees.[50] The harassment
would need to be frequent, severe, physically threatening, and unreasonably
hinder work performance to make a hostile environment claim.[51] Since the
suit can be brought against an employer, there is strong incentive for them
to stop the harassment by the employee. Harassment in the employment
context seems to have the strongest possibility of a remedy.

There seems to be substantial obstacles to utilizing criminal and civil
penalties to thwart the persistent E-mail stalker. This leaves open the
question of whether it is possible to regulate this type of behavior at
all. Cyberspace is the new frontier and we explore at our own risk. As in
every aspect of our lives, unpleasant experiences on the Internet may serve
to give us a better understanding of ourselves as we grapple with, and
solve, the problem of unwanted interaction with others.

IV. Regulation of the Internet and Personal Responsibility

Although there are laws that can discourage the behavior of a cyberstalker
who's identity is known to the victim, the greatest challenge is protecting
the victim from unknown harassers. None of the remedies previously
discussed will be very effective. Therefore the issue becomes not only, is
it possible to create solutions through regulation, but whether regulation
is even desirable.

This comment asserts the proposition that tort remedies are too expensive
for the individual victim and criminal action is too expensive for the
state when the problem my have other viable solutions. The federal laws may
be every bit as difficult to enforce as the state laws until the
constitutionality of the Communications Decency Act has been tested in
court.[52] Therefore, it is best to allow this new community to police
itself and to empower victims by informing them on ways they can protect
themselves from harassing E-mail when the traditional remedies are not
available for the various reasons discussed.

Many people who interact daily on computer networks feel that the problem
of persistent harassing E-mail and on-line sexual harassment can be
regulated by the virtual community that is composed of the people who
participate in cyberspace.[53] Adaptation to the to the cyber-culture may
make this type of behavior less bothersome when it is weighed against the
incredible freedom of expression that the Internet allows. Participation in
chat rooms, the World Wide Web,[54] and other Internet activities is
voluntary and if a person is truly emotionally at risk, that may be
something that should be considered before the user signs on.

Many people access the Internet and have their E-mail accounts through a
commercial on-line service such as America Online or Compuserve. These
providers have an interest in keeping their customers satisfied and will
enforce their terms of service by eliminating an account used by someone
who does not follow the rules. Reporting the sender to their system
administrator could solve the problem quickly. In addition, most of the
commercial providers have "kill files" or "Bozo filters" which allows a
user to block messages from a particular sender. All incoming messages from
the senders name and address are automatically deleted. Some providers
allow a subscriber to change their E-mail address, which would be similar
to changing a phone number to avoid obscene calls.

Another tactic a victim can use is to simply ignore the messages, or answer
them with a "flame" of their own. While this could backfire and escalate
the problem, it would serve to give the sender notice that the E-mail was
unwanted and by simply ignoring any further messages from the sender the
victim sends the message that any further attempt at contact is futile.

Women especially can avoid the likelihood of attracting the attention of
anonymous cyberstalkers by using common sense. While harassing females
seems to be a favorite pass time of many males, and figures show that most
Internet users are male,[55] Women can alleviate much of the problem by
adopting a male or gender neutral user name. Just as a female must be
careful in the real world about divulging information to strangers, so
should she use the same caution on-line. A woman must think carefully
before starting a romantic relationship with someone in a chat room. It is
similar to answering an advertisement in the personal ads. As with a
newspaper advertizement, it should be recognized that it would be simple
for the potential stalker to project a false persona when there is no face
to face communication.[56]

It is unfortunate that women must be so careful and it is unfair that
energy must be put into protecting oneself in cyberspace. But the reality
is that women have faced challenges of this type in many other typically
male dominated societies and the virtual community is no exception. As more
and more women become citizens of the net, these problems will be less
visible as the proper "Netiquette" [57] is learned and enforced by
traditional methods of communal control on behavior, such a shunning, or
exile from the community.

These solutions are a better answer than restrictions. Any attempt to
regulate the Internet is not only futile because of the special nature of
cyberspace, but will be met with enormous amount of disapproval from the
proponents of free speech on the Internet. This may be the last place on
earth that avoids the constraints of government. Due to the lack of
coercive restraint that has made all other mediums of communication subject
to the censors ability to control what societies the world over can talk
about, it would truly be an injustice to chill this medium due to a
minority of people abusing the ability to communicate with others while
hiding behind the mask of their computer screen.

IV. Conclusion

As the world of computer technology changes rapidly, new and innovative
software programs will be developed to ensure privacy and the ability for
people to control the information they send and receive. While it is
important that people have access to the incredible source of information
that the Internet provides, it is also not unreasonable to expect that a
woman can log-on without the fear of being bombarded with harassing
messages. However, it is important to realize that in a medium such as
cyberspace, enforcement of legislation not only threatens to curtail the
rights of those who use the Internet responsibly but also chills the speech
that is so important to the idea that we finally have a way of crossing
borders, cultures, and prejudices that have until now, been impossible. It
would be a shame if this were limited by a few people who misbehave. Women
have done a good job in the past coming up with solutions to deal with the
problems of men who have no respect for themselves or others. I have faith
that women will overcome the problems with unwanted e-mail without
restricting their own freedom to interact in cyberspace.

Not only do we want to encourage the exchange of ideas, but the Internet
offers the first real chance the average person has to communicate globally
with out the restraint of government influence. This is impossible anywhere

The possibility of a global community becomes a reality in cyberspace.
People are not influenced by the visual cues used to prejudge the values of
a persons ideas. The accessibility is phenomenal, and the cyber-community
changes, expands and redefines itself daily.

The probability of enforcement of any of the restrictions placed on
communication are small when a person chooses to remain anonymous. The
possibility of the creating a better understanding of our world by people
who cross old gender, social, and political barriers through communication
that can't be interrupted or censored is great.

The United States should be the leader in introducing and promoting the
cyber-community. The free exchange of ideas is likely to result in the
spread of democracy throughout the world. Paving the way by trying to
suppress this communication with unenforceable legislation doesn't set a
very good example. It remains to be seen how the United States will meet
this challenge.

It is understandable that oppressive governments will want to limit the use
of any device that will enable the free flow of information. Especially
from the western countries. But they face the same problems in enforcement.
They can simply restrict computer accessibility to the masses. The United
States, on the other hand, cannot effectively restrict computer usage, and
should welcome the chance to be a major player in the shaping of this new

As this comment has demonstrated, the current stalking laws are inadequate
and unenforceable. It is doubtful that legislators can draft a law that
will ever be able to control this type of behavior without stepping all
over the constitutionally protected rights of those who do not abuse.

Since it is relatively easy to block or ignore E-mail from anonymous
sources, the receiver of the unwanted messages must take the responsibility
to control what type of messages are coming in to their electronic mail

Because the current laws that apply to stalking are inadequate in dealing
with electronic communication, creative stalkers could, by avoiding the
elements necessary to sustain a conviction under these statutes, continue
to stalk their victim through E-mail without ever violating most state's
statutes. If an anti-stalking law is drafted to include electronic
communication, it must be carefully drafted so as to survive a
constitutional challenge. A constitutionally sound law may discourage many
potential stalkers from harassment online, but a law, no matter how
perfectly drafted, would still not deter someone with the capabilities of
hiding their identity.

When we ask for laws like these to be developed and enforced, we must weigh
the advantages of these laws against the personal freedoms we forfeit when
we allow government intrusion. Personally, my preference would be to say to
the potential cyberstalker, "sticks and stones..."

* * * * *

[1]The Internet is described as a network of computers, originally used by
education and governments, linked to each other via telephone lines. All
that is needed to access the Internet is a personal computer, modem and a
service provider. Katsh, Ethan: Law in a Digital World: Computer Networks
and Cyberspace. 38 Vill. L. Rev. 403 (1993) 

[2] In the early 1980s, William Gibson wrote a science fiction novel set in
the not-to-distant future. The novel, "Neuromancer", involved large
corporations that replaced governments. A large part of the plot unfolded
in a setting that had no physical existence. Gibson named this setting
"Cyberspace". Cyberspace was a consensual hallucination that felt and
looked like a physical space but was actually computer generated. In this
setting, people connected to networks, carried out business transactions,
worked, played, and broke the law. See E.A. Cavazos & Gavino Morin,
Cyberspace and the Law; Your Rights and Duties in the On-line World, 1994,
pg 1.

[3] "Virtual community" is a term that comes from the definition of virtual
as meaning "in essence or effect though not in actual fact" and community
as meaning "a group of people living in the same locality" and is meant to
refer to the people who interact over the communications networks of the

[4] Gene Barton, Taking a Byte Out of Crime: E-mail Harassment and the
Inefficacy of Existing Law, 70 Wash. L. Rev. 465. (Comments on the
inefficacy of current law, and proposes specific legislation for the state
of Washington.)

[5] "Chat rooms" are connections provided by on-line services and available
on the Internet that allow people to communicate in real time via computer
text and a modem. "E-mail" is computer text sent instantaneously over
telephone lines to another computer ready to receive the incoming message,
or to an on-line service that stores the message in an electronic "mail
box" until the recipient collects it. See, Carmody, Christina; Stalking by
Computer, 80 Sep. ABA J. 70, Sept. 1994 and Barton, Gene, Taking a Byte Out
of Crime: E-mail Harassment and the Inefficacy of Existing Law, 70 Wash. L.
Rev. 465 at 467.

[6] The term "stalking" usually conjures up images of harassing behavior
that frightens or terrorizes the victim; however, there is no precise
definition of what constitutes a stalker. The crime of stalking does not
focus on the attack of the victim, but rather the stalker's pursuit of the
victim. See Eileen S. Ross, E-mail stalking: Is Adequate Legal Protection
Available?, 13 J. Marshall J. Computer & Info. L. 405 at 409-10. Using the
term "Cyberstalker" refers to the person who stalks another in the context
of cyberspace (See supra, footnote 2 ).

[7] A South Carolina woman, Laurie Powell, has been stalked for the last
few years via E-mail by an unknown assailant. Not only has the stalker
threatened her life, but he has also threatened to rape her daughter. The
stalker also posted Powell's home address on E-mail for 25 million people
to see. The FBI, Secret Service, and the local District Attorney are
working with Powell to find her E-mail stalker. See Ross, supra, footnote

[8] A bulletin board consists of leaving messages in group forums to be
read at a later time. An individual "publishes" or "broadcasts" a message
that a large group of readers can access. See McGraw, infra, footnote 52,
at 494.

[9] Price, Wayne T.; Harassment goes on line / Low-tech problem hits PC
networks. USA Today, August 6, 1993, at 1B. (Discussing a woman who was
harassed by unwanted E-mail, that included profanity and rape threats in
retaliation for anti-sexist remarks she had made to a computer discussion

[10] Elsa F. Kramer, The Ethics of E-mail Litigation Takes On One of the
Challenges of Cyberspace, 39 Res Gestae 24, January 1996. (Discussing the
problem of accidentally misdirected E-mail messages to people who can
unscrupulously make use of it.)

[11] Robert A. Guy Jr., The Nature And Constitutionality of Stalking Laws,
46 Vand. L. Rev. 991 at 995. (Stating that approximately 200,000 people in
the country stalk someone each year, and this figure seems to be on the

[12] Anne Wells Branscomb, Anonymity, Autonomy, And Accountability:
Challenges to the First Amendment in Cyberspaces, 104 Yale L.J. 1639, May
1995 at 1642. (Anonymity may remove many layers of civilized behavior when
it is realized that one can escape responsibility for negligent or abusive

[13] For over two years, Robert Bardo maintained a deranged obsession for a
young actress, Rebecca Schaeffer, who co-stared in a television sitcom. He
sent her threatening letters, followed her on several occasions, and was
restrained by security guards at the television studio where she was
working. Bardo hired a private investigator to learn Schaeffer's home
address. On the morning of July 18, 1989, he went to Schaeffer's home
carrying a loaded .357 magnum in a brown paper bag and gunned her down in
the doorway of her apartment, killing her instantly. In another case, an 11
year old girl was stalked for 19 months before being suddenly kidnapped,
repeatedly raped, and murdered. The police, though aware of the stalker's
obsessive conduct, had taken no prior action against him because, prior to
kidnapping the girl, he had committed no crime. See Mathew J. Gilligan,
Stalking the Stalker: Developing New Laws to Thwart Those Who Terrorize
Others. 27 Ga L. Rev. 285, Fall 1992, at pg 285-86.

[14] Cal Pen Code @ 646.9 (Deering's Calif. Codes Ann. 1995)

[15] Eileen S. Ross, E-mail Stalking: Is Adequate Legal Protection
Available? (Citing M. Katherine Boychuk [FN2])

[16] Those states are Alaska ( AK St. ?.41.270), Delaware (11 Del. C. �
1312 A), Connecticut (Conn. Gen. Stat. � 53a-183, 53a-182b), Michigan (MSA
� 28.643(8)E,vi), Montana (Mont. Code Anno., � 45-5-220, 1b) Oklahoma (21
Okl. St. � 1173, F 4f), and Wyoming (Wyo. Stat. � 6-2-506 B,i).

[17] 47 USC 223 was amended by the "Communications Decency Act of 1996"
(110 Stats 56, 133) that changes the term telephone to communications
device, which would include computers using on-line services.

[18] Code of Ala. � 13A-6-90, Cal Pen Code @ 646.9, CO R.S. 18-9-111, Fla.
Stat. � 784.048, O. C. GA. Ann. � 16-5-90, Iowa Code � 708.11, LA. R.S.
14:40.2, MA St. 265 � 43, MD Code 1957, Art. 27, ?B, Minn. Stat. � 609.749,
N.M. Stat. Ann � 30-3A-2,3,&4,OH Rev. Code Ann. 2903.211, Tenn. Code Ann. �
39-17-315, Tex. Penal Code � 42.07, Utah Code Ann. � 76-5-106.5 (as amended
by 1996 Ut. HB 300), VA. Code Ann. � 18.2-60.3, Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) �
9A.46.110, Wis. Stat. � 947.013. 

[19] See supra footnote 16.

[20] See Barton, supra, footnote 5.

[21] These law are being challenged as unconstitutionally vague under the
Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court
in Grayned v. City of Rockford, 408 U.S. 104 (1972) states that a law must
clearly define what conduct it prohibits, or it is void for vagueness.

[22] See People v. Heilman, 30 Cal.Rptr.2d 422 at 428; State v. Culmo,
642A2d 90 at 98.

[23] A statute is overbroad if, in addition to proscribing activities which
may be constitutionally forbidden, it will also apply to speech or conduct
which is protected by First Amendment. See Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S.
88 (1940).

[24] See Barton, supra, footnote 5 at 471.

[25] See supra footnote 5

[26] Gary Chapman, Net Gain; Trying to Legislate Pornography on the
Internet. The New Republic, July 31, 1995 at pg. 10. (Explaining how the
Internet, for technical reasons,is largely immune to any form of government
regulation that net users oppose.)

[27] See supra, Footnote 16.

[28] 47 USCS � 223,1,A&B;, as amended by the Communications Decency Act of
1996 (110 Stat 56, 133), prohibits ...interstate or foreign communication
by means of telecommunications device [who] knowingly makes, creates, or
solicits, and initiates the transmission of, any comment, request,
suggestion, proposal, image or other communication which is obscene, lewd,
lascivious, filthy, or indecent; makes a telephone call or utilizes a
telecommunication device, whether or not conversation ensues, without
disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or
harass any person at the called number or who receives the communication...

[29] Caldwell v. State, 26 Md App 94, (1975).

[30] United States v. Darsey, 342 F Supp 311.

[31] As quoted in the Los Angeles Times, Wednesday November 15, 1995 at A1.
This article tells of a Caltech student who spent 6 months in County Jail
before being acquitted of stalking. The student insisted that he did not
send some of the e-mail in question. See infra, footnote 32.

[32] Amy Harmon, Student's expulsion Over E-mail Use Raises Concerns;
Cyberspace: Caltech Harassment Case Illustrates Growing Problem. But
Experts Fear Unreliable Records. The Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, November
15, 1995 at Pg. A1.

[33] 104 Yale L. J. 1639 at 1643 (cited supra footnote 6). See also The New
Republic, July 31, 1995 at 10. (cited supra footnote 13).

[34] Anonymous remailer systems - which often are located overseas - will
automatically receive a communication and forward it to a destination after
having removed all traces of the origin of the communication. Todd Lappin,
Cyber Rights Now; Internet v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, Janet Reno, et al.,
Wired Magazine, May 1996 Pg. 84 at 89.

[35] 11 Del Code � 1312A, b (3) (1995), "Credible threat" means a threat
made with the intent, and the apparent ability, to carry out the threat, so
as to cause the person who is the target of the threat to reasonably fear
for that person's own safety. The threat must be against the life of a
person, or a threat to cause serious physical injury to a person.

[36] Conn. Gen. Stat, 53a-183 (a), Harassment in the second degree.

[37] The term "flame" is used in the cyberspace context to describe an
offending message sent to someone that the sender disagrees with, or was
upset by. It is typically sent in response to something that the recipient
previously posted on a usenet bulletin board or in reply to a previous E-
mail or chat room conversation.

[38] See Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 748 (1971) The Supreme Court said
that profane, offensive language is nonetheless First Amendment speech, and
may not be suppressed under the guise of regulating the manner of speech.
Rejecting the state's claim that they had a right to protect captive
audiences from offensive language, the court recommended that the offended
avert their eyes. The court made the astute observation that governments
might often ban particular words as a "smokescreen" for banning unpopular
views. Justice Harlan said that "One [cannot] forbid particular words
without also running a substantial risk of suppressing ideas in the
process." This would seem to indicate that if you are "flamed" by someone,
avert your eyes.

[39] Wyo. Stat. � 6 - 2 - 506 a, i, (1995).

[40] Wyo. Stat. � 6 - 2 - 506 a, ii, "Harass" means to engage in a course
of conduct... directed at a specific person, which the defendant knew or
should have known would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial
emotional distress, and which does in fact seriously alarm the person
toward whom it is directed.

[41] Conn. Gen. Stat. @ 53a-182b (a).

[42] See supra, footnote 21.

[43] Wyo. Stat. � 6-2-506 (c),"This section does not apply to an otherwise
lawful demonstration, assembly or picketing".

[44] As quoted in The New York Times, September 16, 1994 at B18.

[45] Alaska, Connecticut, and Delaware require that a victim fear death or
physical injury.

[46] A television program on Anti-stalker laws reported that according to
the Justice Department in 1991, stalking offenders were: Husbands, 9%; Ex-
Husband, 35%; Boyfriend/Ex-Boyfriend, 32%. ABC News, Nightline with Ted
Koppel. Broadcast September 3, 1992. 

[47] Michigan's stalking law is being challenged by Andrew C. Archambeau
who was arrested and charged with stalking after he spent several weeks
sending lovesick pleadings to a woman's electronic mailbox on the America
Online network, even after the woman messaged Mr. Archambeau several times,
telling him there was no chance for a romantic relationship and that she
did not want any further communication. The woman met Mr. Archambeau
through a video dating service See Barton, supra, footnote 5 at 471.

[48] A state court can exercise personal jurisdiction over defendants
without violating their due process rights if the defendant has such
"minimum contacts" with the state that its exercise of jurisdiction would
not be unfair or unreasonable. See International Shoe Co. v. Washington,
326 U.S. 310 (1945).

[49] The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress requires that
the conduct be "extreme and outrageous" and the standard of outrageousness
can be quite high. (Restatement of Torts, Second, 46 1965) The tort of
invasion of privacy requires a standard that shows that the invasion was an
intrusion into a private thing that would be offensive to a reasonable man.
(Prosser and Keeton on Torts, 5th edition, at 855).

[50] Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986). (Establishing the
cause of action for hostile work environment under Title VII.)

[51] Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc.,114 S. Ct. 367 (1994). (Laying out
the elements necessary to prove a claim of hostile work environment under
Title VII.)

[52] Wired Ventures Ltd., along with a coalition of Internet service
providers, software manufacturers, media outlets, public interest groups
and individual users have joined under the banner of the Citizens Internet
Empowerment Coalition (CIEC) to challenge the provisions of the
Communications Decency Act by filing suit on February 27, 1996, in a
federal courthouse in Philadelphia. See Lappin, supra footnote 34.

[53] See The CyberAngels internet site,
Http:// This is an all volunteer Internet
patrol modeled after the "International Alliance of Guardian Angels"
headquartered in New York City, which is an organization of civilian
volunteers that patrol neighborhoods and report crime to the police.

[54] One of the networks of computers connected to the Internet is also
referred to as "the web".

[55] David McGraw, Sexual Harassment in Cyberspace: The Problem of
Unwelcome E-mail, 20 Rutgers Computer & Tech. L.J. 491 at 495. (Explaining
that the Internet evolved as a research tool in scientific and engineering
disciplines made up predominantly of males; thus males have greatly
outnumbered females in using its facilities.)

[56] See Sherry Turkle, Who Am We? Wired Magazine, January 1996, Pg 149 at
152. (Asserting that as we move from a modernist culture of calculation,
into a postmodernist culture of simulation, we are able to project
ourselves into our own dramas, where we are producer, director, and star.
Computer screens are the new location for our fantasies, both erotic and

[57] "Netiquette" is a term used on the Internet to describe proper
courteous conduct between users. The term is a combination of the word
Internet and etiquette. 

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