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The crimes of threats and harassment in the digital sphere

Criminal Law
The crimes of threats and harassment in the digital sphere

The expansion of the Internet, social networks and mobile connectivity has facilitated the commission of certain crimes, such as threats and harassment, in the digital sphere. Consult us without obligation, we have the best criminal lawyers. 

This has mobilized the legislator and the authorities, making effective tools against such crimes be configured. Such tools include preventive and corrective measures, such as the removal of content or the payment of compensation. But they also include coercive systems such as criminal liability, aimed at dissuading the actor, preventing the crime and, in the event of commission, punishing it.

That is why it is essential that victims of crimes of threats and harassment in the digital sphere know their rights and how to make them effective. In this sense, it is essential to have the advice of criminal lawyers specialized in the matter.

Threats and harassment in the digital realm 

The growth of crime in the digital sphere is undeniable, as are its consequences. Entities such as UNICEF have highlighted the mental, physical and emotional effects of cyberbullying, directing information and awareness campaigns to deal with these harassments. And in all these types of campaigns we find a common trait: the need to report harassment or threats.

The victim of these crimes often feels helpless. Especially considering that the digital realm seems to grant some protection and anonymity to the criminal. However, current means allow authorities to intervene effectively in most digital crimes. Especially the ones of this type. 

Let us bear in mind that the prevention and reaction to digital crimes is a top priority today. Therefore, our Legal System has effective tools to react to harassment or threats over the Internet.

Threats and cyberbullying in the workplace 

One of the fields where we most frequently find cyberbullying is in the workplace. There are constantly cases of stalking, non-consensual or unsolicited pornography, threats, pressure ... 

It is important that companies consider these scenarios in their internal protocols. Particularly in the digital disconnection. The company cannot allow conduct of this type to take place in its communication channels.

Nor can you use digital media to control your staff in areas outside their functions and work hours. A violation of the right to privacy of workers can lead to the obligation to pay compensation to those affected. In addition, it can invalidate the taking of certain decisions (such as the justification of a dismissal) or the imposition of sanctions.

Regarding cyberbullying between colleagues, a proactive attitude must be implemented towards the prevention and reporting of these situations, which have led to dramatic consequences such as the well-known suicide of an Iveco worker in 2019. 

Harassment and cyber violence in the relationship

Another of the areas where we frequently find these crimes is that of a couple. The penetration of mobile technology (smartphones, mainly) in Spanish society means that practically all of us are permanently connected.

This facilitates the exercise of violence between couples, exploiting the use of these devices to maintain control over the other person (for example, keeping them constantly located) and even using them for openly violent purposes (highlighting in this sense the phenomenon known as porn revenge).

We must emphasize that cyberbullying includes aggravated penalties for cases of gender violence and domestic violence. Therefore, the Legal System makes available to us defense tools applicable to the domestic and gender spheres when we are faced with this kind of crime.

Cyberbullying and minors 

Also, frequent, and especially worrying for the condition of the victims, are the crimes of cyberbullying and digital threats to minors. We are in a field where the victim is not fully prepared to know the seriousness of their actions or the defense tools at their disposal.

Hence, it is also a specially protected field, where the intervention of third parties is also essential. According to Save The Children, 40% of Spanish minors could have suffered cyberbullying during their childhood.

Digital threats and cyberbullying in the Penal Code

Given the seriousness of the situation, the Penal Code contemplates the crimes of digital threats and cyberbullying. Not only as an extension of its traditional versions, but with its own conditions. 

Thus, article 169.1º of the Penal Code, in charge of condemning threats, establishes in its second paragraph that: 

<> Regarding cyberbullying or stalking, article 172 ter of the same text is penalized, which punishes with prison sentences or a fine who: 

<< [...] harasses a person insistently and repeatedly, and without being legitimately authorized, any of the following behaviors and, in this way, seriously alters the development of their daily life:

1st.- Watch her, chase her or look for her physical closeness.

2.- Establish or try to establish contact with her through any means of communication, or through third parties.

3.ª.- Through the improper use of your personal data, you acquire products or merchandise, or contract services, or have third parties contact you. 

4.ª.- Attack against her freedom or against her patrimony, or against the liberty or patrimony of another person close to her >>.

How to act in case of being a victim of digital threats or stalking?

As we have seen, the Penal Code provides important penalties for those who promote intimidation or harass other people through digital instruments. The authorities pursue these behaviors and the victim has the possibility not only to report them, but also to accuse the offender by filing a complaint. Note that sometimes it will be necessary to report the facts so that they can be pursued.

Therefore, when threats or coercion are received in the digital sphere, it is crucial to contact criminal lawyers who know about these types of crimes. Their experience will be key when it comes to drawing up an effective defense strategy.

Contact us, and our lawyers specializing in criminal law will study your specific case. We Have:

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