Reporting to the Authorities
There are a number of measures you can take to halt the harassment and protect yourself. Many of the informal and proactive steps that can be taken are discussed in the fact sheet entitled “Protection from Cyberstalking: Basic Advice”.
The following are more formal steps that should be taken if personal measures are not sufficient, if the stalking behaviours escalate, if the level of fear or threat increases, or the cyberstalking moves from the online world to direct, in person contact. While you would generally take these steps in the order listed below, their level of fear and need may necessitate taking several courses of action at the same time. If there is imminent danger of physical harm, contact the police immediately by calling 911. It is a good idea to also advise family, friends and other appropriate supports about what is happening to you.
Report the offender to your Internet Service Provider
The ISP is able to take action or propose measures that will discourage the harasser from trying to contact you. These steps may include directions on how you can change passwords/clean your system of any malicious software, or may extend to more advanced steps like blocking the user's IP address from contacting you. The offender will also be flagged in their abuse and security department. This may not resolve the problems, as staff is typically computer and network specialist with training in the resolution of technical issues - not victim support. Many ISPs do not inform their customers about what steps (if any) have been taken to follow up on the complaint and staff are constrained by a wide area of responsibility and limited personnel which is why you should report abuse multiple times before going on to the next step.
File a report with the stalker’s Internet Service Provider
If you are aware of the stalker's ISP, you may consider this step. The harassing behaviours are likely in violation of the ISP’s Acceptable Use Policy. If the ISP is in agreement, it may result in the termination of a violator's internet service contract. There are pitfalls to this approach - it may result in a temporary suspension of the harassment, there is no monitoring system or database which stops the violator from simply opening up another internet access account with another ISP and continuing the harassment. They may also increase the cyberstalking, if they become upset or enraged by your actions.
Report the offender to a third-party online service organization
Organizations such as AntiStalking, CyberAngels, and Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHOA) are informational resources that may offer more advanced tips on how to stop or gather information useful in a criminal case. They are not based in Canada, but do have information that is applicable. They may also be able to help support if you are having difficulty convincing authorities of the legitimacy of the behaviours as being harassing. They will not be able to report on your behalf, and may not be able to provide referral to local support services.
Report the behaviour/offender to law enforcement
Reporting to the police is the first official step in a criminal investigation. It may lead to a conviction, but this is not a guaranteed outcome. Reporting to the police may also be useful in connecting you with local crisis and support services.As these types of crimes become more prevalent, police are becoming more aware of the cyberstalking behaviours, but individual officers may be unfamiliar with the crimes or technology in question and uncertain how to proceed. It is common to be told to come back if the cyberstalker confronts you offline, or to have police tell you to stop using the technology. There may also be cases where the offender is untraceable, making prosecution difficult.
McCall, R. (2004). Online Harassment and Cyberstalking: Victim Access to Crisis, Referral and Support Services in Canada Concepts and Recommendations. Accessed on February 9, 2011 at www.vaonline.org/Cyberstalking%20Concepts%20and%20Recommendations%20(e).pdf.