Posted by Bradley W. Deacon
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Posted by Bradley W. Deacon
Stalking is clearly defined under criminal codes around the world and a good example of the definition of ‘stalking‘ can be found at Section 21(A) of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) as outlined in this link.
Upon review of the legislation relating to stalking it appears to be a broad piece of legislation that has moved with the times to ensure it also covers a course conduct that involves the use of the internet. It is quite clear that under Section 21(A)(2)(ii) that a person who “arouses apprehension or fear in the victim for his or her own safety or that of any other person-with the intention of causing physical or mental harm to the victim to the victim. including self harm, or of arousing apprehension or fear in the victim for his or her own safety or that of any other person” can be deemed to be stalking.
As a practising Attorney I have recently been involved in several matters where Magistrates have referred to ‘stalking’ and it is one of the conditions set in domestic violence or personal safety intervention orders, however law enforcement bodies have limited resources to investigate stalking offences in general.
Whilst the law is quite clear with regards to ‘stalking’ the reality is enforcing such legislation is quite onerous on law enforcement and it appears that only in extreme cases will such matters proceed to court.
It is here that I would like to focus on ‘location stalking’ which whilst it applies to the general public at large it is extremely prevalent amongst celebrities, sporting stars and various other public figures and with social media use being adopted by society the opportunities for persons that engage in such activity will also increase.
The majority of social media users are aware that under various privacy settings in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like that individual location geocodes(1) can be turned off therefore the exact location is not highlighted on a map for all to see. However, where people want to share a momentous occasion or just share a picture for their ‘friends, family, followers, subscribers and fans to see that one picture may in fact identify their exact location.
As a business decision to understand my law practice area and for other parts of my business where my market is heavily involved in social media I am an avid user of social media and use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where I ‘follow’ or ‘fan’ a variety of persons, celebrities, sporting stars and businesses. Most I must say as mentioned previously are conscious of having privacy settings set so that their exact location is not revealed, however simple photographs can give away locations to persons who may be set on ‘stalking’ that individual.
I can appreciate how sporting stars and celebrities are using social media as a way to get their personal ‘brand’ out there and it is imperative that they use social media in a manner that encourages growth of their ‘fan’ base it must however, be front of mind that some photographs that they want to share may best be ‘posted’ 24 hours or so after the event so not to give away their current location.
Constantly I see persons who are very protective of their privacy for security purposes post photographs of locations that to most people in the area would know the location and as an example I have posted my favorite picture of my preferred hotel for when I am in Sydney, the Intercontinental. It is here, this morning I awoke to see a sporting star that I ‘follow’ on Instagram post a picture that was taken at this particular hotel. For the sporting stars ‘privacy’ I have not posted her ‘picture’ but have posted a picture that reveals how a ‘picture’ can pass on your exact location.
Not only can iconic locations give your position away, general landmarks, backdrops of freeway/interstate highways, buildings etc can also assist persons who are set in their ways on ‘stalking’ or just finding out your location, whether it be your workplace, home or favourite restaurant or bar.
We cannot live our lives in ‘bubble-wrap’, we can however be mindful that whilst sharing pictures on social media is part of everyday life for a lot of people, personal safety is an area that needs to be considered before every ‘posting’.
(1) For geographical data to be stored on a map it requires a geocode that contains the address in detail.