Cyberstalking and Other Internet Crimes: Illinois
by Susan Basko, esq.
Cyberstalking and harassment are prohibited by Federal Crime statutes, but most states also have laws. This is about the Illinois laws. Illinois criminal laws will apply if the victim is in Illinois, or if the perpetrator is in Illinois, and may apply in other circumstances. This is not a complete listing, at all. It simply lists some common transgressions made by cyberstalkers and internet harassers.
Good Illinois Protection: If you are in Illinois and anyone posts your name or photo on a creepy website, you are in luck -- there is a criminal law against this. If you are in Illinois, and anyone secretly records a phone call with you, they are committing a crime. If you are in Illinois, and anyone is repeatedly contacting you on the internet to cause you distress, there is a criminal law to protect you.
If you are victim, go to the links here and make a copy of the law. When you go to make your police report, politely hand the officer a copy of the laws. Internet crime is new territory to many police and prosecutors. Persist. Internet stalkers and bad websites tend to harm many people, so you will be helping many others, as well as yourself.
RECORDING A PHONE CALL: It is illegal to record phone call without the consent of all parties. Example: I am in Illinois. If you call me and record the call without my permission, you are violating the Illinois Eavesdropping Act. The first offense is a Class 4 Felony. The second or further offense is a Class 3 felony. If you were to place such a recording online, or transcribe it, or otherwise make it available, each time you do, it is an additional felony count.
RECORDING AN IN-PERSON CONVERSATION: It is illegal in Illinois to record any conversation without permission of all parties. This includes using a video camera or cellphone camera to record a conversation. This also violates the Illinois Eavesdropping Act and is a felony.
MAKING OR POSTING OBSCENE PICTURES: If you use someone's photo to create an obscene picture or video, this is a violation of the Illinois Obscenity Act and is a Class A Misdemeanor or a Felony. If you put such a picture or video online, you are distributing obscenity and distributing obscenity to minors. These are very serious crimes under the Illinois Obscenity Act that can land you on the Sex Offender registry. Illinois has a very broad and conservative definition of "obscenity."
REVENGE PORN, POSTING NAME OR CONTACT INFO OR PHOTO ONTO A WEBSITE THAT CONTAINS ANY OBSCENITY: If a person posts an image of a person, or posts any identifying information, such as name, address, telephone number, or email address, about any person on a pornographic site, without the person's permission, that perpetrator is guilty of a felony under 720 ILCS 5/11-23. If the victim is under 17, he or she cannot give permission and the act is a felony. A site is considered pornographic if it contains any obscene material as defined under Illinois law, which is very broad and conservative. These crimes can land a person in prison and on the Illinois Sex Offender Registry. Also, see the Cyberstalking Law below - creating a website that harasses another person is against the Illinois Cyberstalking law.
So what does this mean? It means that if anyone posts your name or other information or any photo of you on a site that contains any obscene photos, the person is committing a Class 3 or Class 4 felony. Even if the site is held offshore, and even if the person is in a different location, if you are in or from Illinois, you can and should report this crime.
Example 1: Suppose a site is used by a group to make fun of people they don't like. Suppose the site has photos on it that show such things that are obscene, such as photos of an anus or of sexual parts. Anyone that posts any other person's name, contact information or photo on that site without permission has committed a felony. If the victim is under 17, there is no permission possible. Depending on the situation, this crime may also fall under Cyberstalking, Child pornography, creating obscene materials, distributing obscene material to minors, etc. MOST LIKELY, the person running or owning the site is also committing a violating of the Illinois Cyberstalking law (below) provision against maintaining a website that harasses any person.
Example 2: Someone posts your name and writes about you on a website that contains graphic photos and you are under 17 or you are older than 17 and did not give your permission. This is a felony. If the person is convicted, they can be sentenced to prison and be forced to register on the Sex Offender registry.
Example 3: Someone posts a photo of you on a website that contains graphic photos. This is a felony if you are under 17 or if you are over 17 and did not give permission. If the person is convicted, they can be sentenced to prison and forced to register on the Sex Offender registry.
CYBERSTALKING: Cyberstalking is when on 2 or more occasions, a person makes unwanted communication to or about another person online, on their own or through a third party, in a way that they know or should know places the victim in fear for their safety or the safety of someone else, or that causes the victim distress. If the victim is in Illinois, or if the perpetrator is in Illinois, the crime falls under the Illinois law.
Examples 1 - 6: Posting 2 or more taunts at a person via Twitter or Facebook, sending taunting or threatening emails, sending 2 or more @ tweets at a person who has you blocked, posting 2 or more nasty comments at or about a person, posting 2 or more nasty photos or videos of or about a person, having any third party doing any of this for you.
Example 7: Posting 2 or more threatening tweets, messages, or comments saying such things as that you will post a person's name or photo on an undesirable website.
Example 8: Creating a website that harasses another person.
ILLINOIS CYBERSTALKING LAW OF 2010:
You can download a handout on the Illinois Stalking and Cyberstalking laws, prepared by the research staff of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan HERE.