This is a hypothetical question. Imagine two estranged brothers hadn't seen each other in 20 years, but Bob kept a YouTube channel on behalf of some random organisation. Let's say John regularly watched this because he liked to see what his brother was up to even if he knew Bob would never return his calls. One day, Bob said something about their family that John knew to be completely false. Moreover, John found it offensive so left a public comment saying it was false.

Would Bob be able to successfully claim that John was cyberstalking him? If Bob then deleted his entire social media presence but John then found an obscure blog where Bob had spent years writing hateful things about John's family, would Bob be able to further claim that John was stalking him if the blog logged John's IP address? If not actual stalking, could Bob claim John was harassing him?


1 Answer 1


Would Bob be able to successfully claim that John was cyberstalking him?

There isn't a specific offence of cyberstalking in English criminal law. There is the offence of stalking contrary to Section 2A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 but the only potential ground seems to be S2A(3)(d):

(d) monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication,

A successful claim would depend on John's intent, per S2A(2)(c):

(c) the person whose course of conduct it is knows or ought to know that the course of conduct amounts to harassment of the other person.

If John has been watching the YouTube channel perfectly innocently, without intending to harass Bob, it would be difficult to argue he had the intent required for this offence.

It may become a course of conduct if John set out with the intent of finding the obscure blog and knowingly intended (or ought to have known) to harass Bob, but there would usually need to be more than one event.

So, if both the YouTube and the blog incident were intended by John to harass Bob, it could amount to stalking and/or harassment in the alternative.

However, if there was no intent, or intent in only one of the incidents, it seems unlikely that either offence are made out at the moment.

In any event, it is unlikely based on the facts that the police would be interested in investigating it and/or that the CPS would feel the threshold test (particularly on public interest) is met.

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