State legislatures started making cyberstalking a crime in 1999. Three months ago, President Bush signed federal anti-cyberstalking legislation. The New York Times say the problem is “not easily legislated away.” “Cyberstalking is the hidden horror of the Internet,” said Parry Aftab of WiredSafety.org, a network of 9,000 volunteers who patrol the Web and assist victims of cyberstalking, child pornography, and other online ills. “Nobody talks about it. They think they have to live with it.”
Jayne Hitchcock of Working to Halt Online Abuse, an organization that assists victims of Internet harassment, has analyzed victims. The group, which handles an average of 50 new cases each week, says that increasing numbers of men appear to be applying for help, and overt threats of offline harm occurred in about a quarter of the cases last year. In about half the cases, victim and perpetrator appear to be strangers. For the rest, it can be deeply, disturbingly personal.