The NNEDV describes these issues in detail in its tip sheets, “Technology Safety Quick Tips,” “Online Privacy and Safety Tips,” and “Cell Phones: Location Tracking & Sharing.” Find links to these resources at the end of this article.
5. Encourage the victim to document everything.
Help the victim understand that good documentation will help her case move forward. Dates, times, what happened, who was involved, location, any phone numbers involved, and other details become important to showing a pattern of behavior. So can basic understanding about technology, like tracing IP addresses.
Even if you do not currently have enough to build a case and the victim must turn to a private investigator or other resource for help, this documentation can be useful when the case does eventually come to law enforcement.
6. Know where to refer the victim for additional help.
Sometimes private investigators can perform the forensic searches that give you the evidence you need, when you have no legal standing to do so. Find PIs in your area who specialize in family law and who know how to preserve and collect digital evidence that you can use in court.
National nonprofit resources such as the NNEDV have educational resources, too.
7. Know where you can turn for training and resources.
If your agency doesn’t have dedicated digital forensic examiners, seek them out in nearby agencies or task forces. This can be an important resource if you suspect spyware is installed on a mobile device and need forensic analysis to prove and analyze it.
Mobile carriers may be an additional source of assistance. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pointed out, some carriers “will text customers if tracking software is activated on their phones, and shut it off upon request from law enforcement.” Most if not all carriers have law enforcement liaisons who respond to search warrants, court orders and subpoenas.
Finally, training is available from the NNEDV, as well as from the Stalking Resource Center at The National Center for Victims of Crime, if you have grant funding from the USDOJ Office on Violence Against Women.
High tech stalking and harassment can be confusing because the technology, and the ways offenders exploit it for criminal purposes, change constantly. But understanding how it fits in a broader context of domestic violence or other more conventional crimes will help you better help the victims in your community.