Mirror Magazine


Techno Page

Cyberstalking… A few hard facts
Although there is no universally accepted definition of cyberstalking, it can be generally termed as the use of electronic means to repeatedly engage in the harassment or threatening of another.

There are several types of stalkers; however, the common motivation of each is to exert control of some form over their victims. The fact that cyberstalking does not involve physical contact may lead to the misconception that it is less dangerous than real life stalking.

The reality is that on-line stalking can readily lead to an off-line attack if the situation is not properly dealt with as soon as possible. The relative danger that a cyberstalker may present depends on several variables, but the most critical circumstance is that the person may learn enough of your personal information to contact you in real-life.

Many stalkers will say that they know where you live in an attempt to instill as much fear as possible in their victims. Unless this person knows you in real life or this information has been inadvertently divulged, it is not likely that this could be true. However, with the investigative resources now available on the 'Net', even the smallest amount of the right personal facts can be pieced together to provide detailed location information.

For example, every e-mail you send may be attached to a considerable amount of information about you, your friends and your computer; the software you use etc. Coupled with other bits of information, they make it easy for a cyberstalker to piece together a reasonably close picture of you.
For more information and help, visit <http://www.wiredpatrol.org/>

Are you an addict?
Internet addiction (also known as 'pathological Internet use') is a disorder that affects millions of Internet users throughout the world. Often, people joke about being addicted to the Net, but most people don't realise that there are those out there who are essentially slaves to their computers. Often they miss work or school, spend hours and hours on-line and participate in various on-line activities that end up affecting their "offline worlds" or real lives.

Make no mistake about it, Internet addiction is real, and chances are good that someone you know has it. It is becoming common to know of someone, or have heard of someone, who has become enamoured with on-line activity to the point that they ignore important personal responsibilities.

Broken marriages, lost jobs, failing exams in school and forgetting to eat are just some of the reported consequences of being addicted to the Internet. It is the social aspect of computer assisted communication, the interpersonal exchange with others that is so stimulating and reinforcing that some people are finding it hard to know when to stop. Cyberspace communications offer people an opportunity to experience a form of social contact, with no real social presence. The significant difference between cyberspace relationships and ones maintained by other existing technologies like telephone or snail-mail is that the new culture values of Internet virtual communities have social norms that allow and even encourage contact with relative strangers. One might think of the Internet as a cold place but nothing could be further from the truth. In the isolation amidst large cities where people often live separated from their families and relatives, the Net can become a substitute social-life and a vital source of interpersonal contact despite its non-physical nature.

Because cyberspace does not offer a means to monitor others non-verbal responses to your communications it could lead to grave misunderstandings and even conflicts. A critical factor as to how text based communication can lead some people to experience such serious consequences, is the lack of interactivity that is essential in normal human communication. Judgements of others in this virtual social setting are made without the normal sensual clues. This could make those who are addicted to the Internet also act in a similar fashion and to express themselves without verbal or emotional restraint in their "off-line world" as well. So it could be another socially visible symptom of an Internet addict.

Do you fall into this category? Maybe one of your friends is showing signs of on-line addiction? Are you the manager of a company and your employees are spending too much time on-line? What can you do about it? Those who are addicted to the Internet can conquer this problem through understanding and talking about Internet addiction, and by adhering to a few basic guidelines. If you find that you are addicted to the Internet, you should find a mental health professional who can help you conquer your addiction.

The law
Governments around the world are increasingly coming out of the indifferent attitude they initially had towards the Internet. Many countries of the world are now applying their laws far beyond their borders in the seamless world of the Internet.

In simple terms, foreign citizens and businesses are now being subjected to copyright, speech, consumer protection and other laws enacted by governments in countries where they've had no voice.

Though these international tensions seem to have existed long before the Net came into existence, the global network's growth has clearly intensified them. In Italy, two men are reported to be under investigation for allegedly running sites that combined pornographic pictures with offensive statements about 'the' Madonna. They are now about to face blasphemy, computer fraud and other charges that could result in fines and up to three years in prison.

The interesting fact is that the sites were hosted by U.S. companies. Authorities in Italy used a suspect's computer and password to reach across the ocean and replace the offending images with the logo of the special police unit that tracked him down.

It is time to assess our stand on this issue as Sri Lankans, considering that we are living in a country that is engulfed by piracy and plagiarism. We welcome your views on this issue, so write in to <technopage_lk@yahoo.com>.

Readers' Corner
I am a regular reader of your 'Techno Page' in the Mirror Magazine. I am a young web designer. I designed a web site on Matara which is my home town. Now it can be accessed at URL <www.mataracity.com>. This site gives the basic information about the city of Matara and its suburbs. I have a monthly schedule to update it.

At every updating I hope to include new information and enhance it with different designs.

Nufayl Razick.

Readers are welcome to visit Nufayl's site and write in with their views.

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