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I am a victim of cyberstalking and cybersquatting by an ex. After I terminated our very short 3 month relationship, this person contacted my significant other, my separated spouse (unwanted, and they both blocked them), then after receiving no success there, cybersquatted on my first and last name (firstlast.com) with a bunch of defamatory content and a one-sided story about our relationship. This person registered the website anonymously. They hyperlinked every social media profile I have to the site and freely admit to contacting the people in my life - all actions definition of cyberstalking as the statute is written. I have blocked this person from all social media so they would have had to Google my information under a different or anonymized identity. During our relationship, this person stated they would kill me if I ever left them or broke up with them.

I contacted a lawyer who sent them a cease/desist but it was ignored. A couple of months later, as I actually found my behavior changing to one of constant fear of what might happen next, I contacted the police and filed a report for cyberstalking (it is illegal in the state of Washington). Link to the statute is below:

https://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9.61.260

I got a call from the Domestic Violence support center who said they would recommend the case to a prosecutor and recommend they prosecutor press charges. This was a week ago and I haven't heard anything back.

Here are my questions:

1) How do I get the site taken offline? (court order, ICANN, etc.)
2) I would really like to know more about how to dispute the site through ICANN and other internet governing bodies
3) How do I sue the person for defamation per se, libel, slander, and whatever else is possible
4) Is there anything I can do in addition to filing the police report to compel the prosecutor to prosecute the case

I just want to actually feel safe again.

My attorney wants to wait to file a civil restraining order because he wants to see what the prosecutor will do. The website is an embarrassment and people ask about it, I have to explain it constantly. I don't know what additional measures I can take - cybersquatting law is incredibly murky when it comes to personal names vs. commercial trademark infringement. I am really doing my best to be patient but I want to know if there are things I can do that I simply do not know about.

Any and all help would be immensely appreciated. Thanks in advance for your knowledge sharing and responses.

closed as off-topic by Nij, rhymes_with_dorange, Dale M, jimsug Jan 6 at 1:01

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    I understand that the situation is difficult, but what exactly are you asking? This is a question-and-answer site, so we need a question. You have listed the 4 things you would like, but its hard to see how we can add anything that your lawyer won't already have told you. – Paul Johnson Jan 1 at 15:33
  • Hi Paul, thanks for your comments. I edited my post to reflect questions. – mynameisneo Jan 1 at 18:13
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Taking the site offline might infringe First Amendment rights (freedom of expression). Instead, the remedies for damages to your reputation are in the form of a claim of defamation. But your attorney needs to be mindful of the deadline (called the statute of limitations) to file a defamation lawsuit. I have seen several defamation cases fail on appeal simply because the plaintiff['s lawyer] filed the complaint too late or because the lawyer failed to request [from the prospective defendant] a retraction in jurisidictions where it is a prerequisite.

I see that in WA the statute of limitations for claims of defamation is two years, but I still deemed it worth of mention because it is unclear when the defamatory publications began. WA legislation does not appear to require the plaintiff to preliminarily pursue a retraction by the defendant (I did not look very hard, though).

It is hard to assess your attorney's delay regarding the civil restraining order because it is unclear what he has in mind as to the scope of the order. Given your ex's threat to kill you, the contents of his defamatory publications might or might not reinforce the necessity of an order [that prohibits him to contact you]. In the affirmative, your attorney's delay is unreasonable because it amounts to subjecting your case to the pile of backloged, unrelated cases that the prosecutor has to review.

  • Thanks so much! This took place in August, so there is still time. I called the City attorney's office this morning and left a message. My attorney is out this week so this is incredibly helpful. Any tips on ICANN? I'd like to contact them, file a complaint if possible. Thank you – mynameisneo Jan 1 at 18:15
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This is specifically addressing Q2 about ICANN.

Unfortunately I don't think you can do anything about the domain without a court order. ICANN doesn't actually handle disputes itself; you make any complaint to the domain registrar, which you can find using the "whois" service. The registrar will have a dispute policy, which will probably be the ICANN one. Some registrars for national domains have different ones, but if this is a .com domain then it will be the ICANN policy.

The policy is aimed at trademark infringements rather than things like this. You would have to show that the domain name itself is an infringement of your rights; things published on it are outside the scope of the policy. Given that you wouldn't normally have been worried about a site with your name this I suspect that is going to be difficult.

Having said that, filing a complaint with the registrar can't hurt and might just work. Just remember that your complaint is about the domain name itself, not the content published under it.

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ICANN may be the wrong people to contact here. Instead, look at who they used to register the domain and who is hosting the site.

When someone registers a domain name they use a registrar. It is the registrar who sets the domain up with ICANN, and usually you complain to the registrar about problems. They will likely have a policy governing the use of their services that your ex may be in violation of.

Additionally someone must be hosting the web site. This is sometimes done by the domain registrar, sometimes separately. Hosting means that they are storing the data for the web site, e.g. the text and any photos or graphics on it. Again, they likely have rules governing the use of their services and cyberstalking is likely breaking them.

Finding out who these companies are can be a little tricky, and you may need to get some professional help. The WhoIs record should tell you who the domain registrar is. If you look at the DNS servers in the WhoIs record it may tell you who the host is too.

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