Stalking the Stranger in Web 2.0: A Contemporary Regulatory Analysis
Cyberstalking is an important issue which causes significant distress but which has been difficult to find a means of regulating, particularly through formal criminal systems. Yet proper regulation of cyberstalking behaviour could have substantial impact upon the wellbeing of many victims – from child to adult. In this article, I suggest that a different from of regulation is required: one based upon a virtual, community-based concept of regulation. Such a concept offers a novel approach based on three elements fundamental to the discussion of regulation of cyberstalking: (1) the differences between physical stalking and cyberstalking; (2) the character of a virtual community and the effects of social interactions; and (3) the scope of experience and reality. This formulation is based on an expansive view of regulation and ‘normativity’ of a virtual community. The author advocates the formation of codes of conduct based on the ‘rights and responsibilities’ discourse, termed here as ‘protocols,’ which reflect optimal sociological conceptions. The philosophical underpinning of protocols recognises the value of community, essentially the connection between individuals and their community. As such, these protocols will assist in the formation of private laws that are practical and acceptable within the virtual community. The aim of this concept of regulation is to ensure that cyberspace remains a lawful and socially useful space.