Perpetrators who use drones to stalk victims in the new age of technology stirred up bullying


October 1, 2018 05:28:29

For mother-of-three Kim * a small barbecue in her backyard on New Year's Eve was meant as respite from months of bullying by her ex-husband. That was until she saw the drone hovering above her head.

Most important points:

  • Woman reports that they are being chased by drones that are operated by the former partner
  • According to lawyers, perpetrators use new technologies to stalk victims
  • Experts say that laws do not keep the technology

"I heard fans, or air, and I looked up and I saw a drone right above my head," she said.

"It was really high and far away and flew to a parked car in one of the side streets."

The Western Sydney woman is convinced that it was the job of her ex-husband who had tried to discover her whereabouts that day.

"I knew it was because he had tried every means possible to come to our neighborhood," Kim said.

"My fear was that he would come through the night under the guise of the local fireworks and take my children."

Kim is one of many victims who are being stalked and harassed with the help of a new generation of technology.

She lives in fear in a virtual prison to keep her children safe. Six security cameras & # 39; s surround the home, windows are sealed with sensors and the whole family carries personal alarms wherever they go.

Kim is so scared that she lets her children school at home to reduce the chance of being kidnapped.

"I feel like we are the prisoners, we are the ones who have the social stigma," she said.

What is catfishing?

catfishing is when perpetrators create false identities on Facebook to stalk or intimidate others.

"Yet he is free to wander."

For Kim, the drone is the last time in her ex-husband's attempts to stalk in the past two years, during which he twice violated the orders of the court.

He also twice violated an Arrested Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) after attempting to catfish her and her children using Facebook.

& # 39; She heard a striking whisper over your head & # 39;

The federal office of the eSafety Commissioner tries to arm the victims to combat these digital burglaries through its eSafety Women initiative.

"What I really want to focus on is to give women and other Australians the right strategies and information they need to effectively fight it," said Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.

The commission's staff hears an increasing number of anecdotal reports of abused drones while the staff crosses the country where workshops are held for up to 5000 domestic force lawyers and law enforcement officials.

It is much-needed information, since the office has received 478 complaints about cyber abuse since July last year. This year there was an increase of 38 percent on a monthly basis.

The new technology now only allows the perpetrators to stalk victims, but also to prevent restrictions imposed by restricting orders.

Commissioner Grant said that misuse of technology will always surprise her.

"We have heard stories about a woman who has escaped from the highway and she began to humiliate texts of her former husband," she said.

She did not know how he knew what she was doing until one day she started feeding the chickens.

"She heard a conspicuous howling above her and her former partner followed her daily movements through a drone over her safe house."

Droning, spoofing, catfishing and What & # 39; sFaking

It is not correct drones. The digital world is being mobilized in more and more ways to control and force victims of domestic violence.

Alex Davis is a specialist in technology-based abuse at NSW Legal Aid and says that it is becoming easier for perpetrators to harass victims.

"It's really hard for me to remember a case where technology was not a problem," she said.

Mrs. Davis said there was another emerging method spoofingwhere offenders used an app or website to hack a victim's phone so that calls seemed to come from a friendly source.

Maybe there will be a number that might say Mom on your phone, but the phone call comes from someone else, Ms. Davis said.

Domestic violence workers told ABC that it was common to detect spyware on the victims' phones or for violators to demand passwords and to control access to devices.

"Smartphones have Find my iphone that is already enabled and if a person does not know that the other person has a password, it has been used to track down many of our customers, "said Ms. Davis.

In another case, a man used an app What & # 39; sFake to the doctor What & # 39; sApp messaging thread to fraudulently show that his victim's mother speaks negatively about her.

The whole house (and the car) is watching

Experts are also worried about the use of the so-called "internet of things".

Everyday objects such as lighting, air conditioners, security cameras, swimming pool pumps, dog cams and even baby monitors can now be digitally connected using domotica technology, giving perpetrators another way to operate a house remotely.

"We have had some problems with smart TV & # 39; s is used to sneakily record people with built-in cameras, "said Ms. Davis.

"We've also had problems with the way technology is linked so that someone can access someone else's account so that they have access to all of their incoming messages or calls.

"We also have problems with hidden cameras and hidden listening devices in everyday objects.

"Another problem that our customers really have to pay attention to is that their children get devices from ex-partners [because] often they are loaded with things. "

The car is also not a safe space.

The ABC also took note of a case in the north of Sydney where an offender installed an electronic device in the car of his partner, who sent him a text message alert when she left the area and allowed him to cut off the fuel supply remotely.

Common tracking devices is known to be adopted for more sinister reasons.

"These appear in passenger cars, clothing and they are used so that someone can be traced and the person can try to track them down," said Davis.

The burden of proof has to be changed: prosecutors

There is concern that the laws do not keep up with digital developments.

Make your phone more secure:

  • Set a secure password and change it regularly
  • Turn off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS when you do not need them
  • Disable all location services in apps
  • Block your number so that it can not be identified when you call people
  • If you suspect that your phone has been infected with spyware, you must restore it to the factory settings
  • Call for more advice, 1800 Respect national helpline: 1800 737 732

(eSafety Commission)

Prosecutors told the ABC that their biggest challenge to combat these methods was the evidence rules of the court, in particular the burden of proof.

Right now, prosecutors must be able to show the court that it was actually the perpetrator who had an intimidating message & # 39; & # 39; Entering & # 39;

The same applies to drones. Public prosecutors must be able to prove that the perpetrator is flying with the drone at that time.

NSW Police Commissioner Mark Jones said that many of the examples could be covered by existing offending or stalking laws and encouraged people with suspicions to make a report.

He said tracking software and spyware were a specific problem, but he admitted that the existing legislation did have limitations.

"Many of these laws were written before surveillance devices were as prevalent as now, and certainly prior to some of the social networking apps," he said.

"Her [a] very serious crime for the police to investigate and certainly to obtain sufficient evidence.

"If legislation were to change, reversing the reversal, for example, that could very well be a positive means for the police."

The police also find it difficult to receive timely help from social media companies to track down perpetrators.

Kim said that Facebook was now explicitly mentioned in her ADVO and that she would also like to see drones.

"It is very easy to get frustrated with the police, but it is important for us to understand that the police can only enforce the laws as they are," she said.

"The laws must change with time, because these men are for them right now."

Commissioner Inman Grant believes that the technology industry has a role to play.

"If we really want to be ahead of security issues, the technology industry must play a more active role in investing and innovating in safety on their platforms and that means that we advance the risk assessments and incorporate safety protection into their product and service development processes," said she.

Technology, both the leader and the savior

Proponents said it was important for women to be aware: delete shared apps, cloud devices and even leave the phone behind.

The eSafety Commissioner has a special eSafety women's site and will soon launch an online training portal for employees.

Ms. Inman Grant said the focus of the site was on prevention and the appropriate use of technology in safe places, while recognizing that it could be a lifeline for others.

"Technically facilitated abuse is really abuse and its impact can be really bad, really harmful," she said.

For Kim, technology was both a kidnapper and a savior. But in general she is hopeful.

"It is the only best decision I have ever taken to leave him and the transformation is with my children," she said.

The advice of Davis is for anyone with suspicions to get help with a service for domestic violence or a technically savvy friend.

"I think that if someone is afraid that their technology has been tampered with, they must trust their feelings," she said.

* Name has been changed to protect identity.


science and technology,



domestic violence,

internet technology,


computers and technology,


First posted

October 01, 2018 05:10:52

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