Digital considerations for non-molestation and restraining orders

Digital considerations for non-molestation and restraining orders

 Jennifer Perry, CEO Digital-Trust

Jennifer Perry, CEO Digital-Trust

These are suggestions Jennifer Perry made to the UK's CPS (Crown Prosecution Service). These are digital risks she has identified working with domestic violence professionals. Not all of these will be able to be incorporated into non-molestation orders but hopefully most of them will be able to be used in some form. Jennifer received a positive response from the CPS which is considering updating their guidelines to incorporate some of the suggestions. We will update this entry when their process is completed.

Digital considerations for non-molestation and restraining orders

Background: Today, all stalkers use digital means to monitor, humiliate, intimidate and alienate the victim. The most common tactics include: accessing accounts, spyware, social media, tracking devices. They use these tools against the victim, and those closest to the victim.

The information that that can be obtained by digital means increases the physical risks as well the mental and financial harm.

The most effective way to protect a victim digitally is to educate and encourage victims to address their digital safety and habits. They need to be made aware of the risks, how to address and what software and mobile apps are available to help them. There are online resources to assist victims.

Adding digital related restrictions to a non-molestation/restraining will usually offer increased protection. They would clearly state what the abuser can’t do, so that that the abuser is unable to claim ignorance. It would also make it clearer to those enforcing the order that there has been a clear breach. 

Key Challenges:

  • Friends and family provide opportunities to continue to monitor/torment victims
  • Existing data/pictures or videos relating to the victim that the abuser might use
  • Publishing of material or content targeting the victim
  • Ability to monitor a victim physical location
  • Issues related to access and children

Ideas for discussion

1.       Connecting to someone via social media

  • Require abuser to remove victim and named friends and family from all online accounts; including but limited to: Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Whatsapps)
  • Resign from any online groups that the victim participates in
  • Do not attempt to add/follow/connect with the victim and named friends and family, nor join a group the victim is participating in either under their own identity of another.
  • The abuser must not use a third party’s account to monitor or contact the victim and named friends and family.

2.       Pictures

  • Delete all existing digital pictures the abuser has, or has uploaded, of the victim; including those stored on a local device (computer, drive, mobile) and those stored electronically in online, in picture libraries or posted online.
  • Do not publish or distribute pictures of the victim or those associated with the victim
  • No labelling/tagging/identifying pictures with the victim’s name, either pictures of the victim, associated with the victim or used to embarrass the victim.

3.       Content

  • Do not publish any information, comments or opinion of the victim or named friends and family.
  • Do not make comments that a reasonable person could conclude alludes to the victim.

4.       Monitoring

  • Do not use any geolocation technology to monitor the victim or their named friends and family.
  • Do not use a tracking device on any car used by the victim (even if it is owned by the abuser)

5.       Joint access issues

  • Do not access a child’s phone
  • Do not send the child electronic files
  • Don’t connect with the child via any social media where the mother and named friends and family are already connected.
  • Do not purchase an Internet phone or computer for a child, without permission from the victim.
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