New laws likely to ban Net stalking


Herald Sun: New laws likely to ban Net stalking [ 21sep02 ]


New laws likely to
ban Net stalking

By RUSSELL ROBINSON
21sep02

THE State Government’s review of stalking laws is expected to be
completed by the end of the year.

It is believed legislators will
introduce amendments to the Crimes Act to cover cyber-stalking, which will
include electronic communication and the Internet.

Because cyber-stalking often involves borderless communications, it is
believed the jurisdictional problems are also being addressed.

The State Government yesterday refused to comment on the proposed
legislation, which has been flagged by Attorney-General Rob Hulls.

The review was welcomed by the Law Institute yesterday.

The institute’s president, David Faram, said it was important for the
law to keep up with technological advances.

“People can be stalked by phone or by mail. It takes a variety of forms
and new technology has created new challenges for the law and the
community,” he said.

He also supported the review into the common cross-border aspects of
cyber-stalking.

Jurisdictional issues are at the centre of a landmark legal battle
involving a Melbourne man accused of cyber-stalking a Canadian television
actor.

Brian Sutcliffe, 40, was charged with stalking Sara Ballingall, a star
of the hit teenage soap opera Degrassi High, from his Brighton home
between 1993 and 1999.

Sutcliffe says he sent the actor letters and gifts, including a stuffed
koala packed in a shotgun ammunition box. He also set up an internet page
devoted to the series.

Sutcliffe this week denied harassing the Ballingalls, saying his
activities were misinterpreted.

In 1999, he was charged with stalking by Victoria Police, but this was
thrown out in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on the ground the actor had
been allegedly terrorised outside its jurisdiction.

Police successfully appealed against that decision in the Supreme
Court, but Sutcliffe is appealing against its
finding.

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