Surveillance and stalkers: how the Internet supercharges gendered violence


18 U.S. Code § 2512 is also what tries to prevent the democratization of surveillance. It’s ok for telcos, ISPs, and spooks - which plainly demonstrates the making of separate laws for separate classes of people. Personally, I am more concerned about the power that a utility company or government who I pay for can use against me or the average person, than that of some cranky individual with a grudge.

Not to nitpick, but the linked story says 85% of shelters are working with victims who have been GPSed, not 85% of shelter customers have been GPSed. (hopefully) big difference.


Thanks for the correction!

But the point is the cranky individuals are far more common. Just like most abuse of children or adults is at the hands of a relative, not a stranger or a secret government laboratory. It’s probably easier to fight the government abuse. Safeguards can be put in place, like the Church Commission, which actually achieved a few decades of reform. But no safeguards will ever stop the obsessed jilted lover - they seem to find a way around every barrier. They have to be caught and prosecuted, one by one, and there are always more. Hashtag Gamergate.

Also, I don’t imagine most women in abusive relationships would describe their partner as “cranky.”


And all is made worse by the fact that far less women than men are tech savvy (at least from my direct observations). So if you want help at least indirectly, learn them how to use the privacy tools. I personally taught an colegue who was stalked by her husband how to use google disk so he wont have access to documents she was preparing for divorce.

Programmers: make tools that are SUPER easy to use. Not everybody can name and describe 100’s of encryption algorithms - you surely know what i mean.


I think that’s a good point. Often the victims of this aren’t tech savvy. They are just people who are mom’s, students, or whatever, that are living their everyday lives. Trying to learn all of that, while at the same time being stalked and harassed, and possibly trying to uproot your life (and children’s life), and possibly in a shelter is a bit of a tall order.


And the internet reinforcing gendered violence goes beyond what’s discussed, too - look at the practice of posting nude picts of one’s ex to sites that provide real names, so that groups of people can target the victim, harass them and get them fired from their job. That’s exclusively happening to women. Doxxing over points of view? As you can see with the activities of groups like #gamergate, it’s mostly women (in gamergate’s case, it’s entirely women who are the targets for the “special” treatment). Then you even have things like this: which isn’t even an isolated case, anymore.


“LOVEINT” sounds more like “CREEPINT” to me.


Of course you do. And of course you downplay and dismiss the often deadly abuse taking place.

There is only so much one can do, so I try to pick my battles carefully. My experience is that classism hurts more people, so this is where I concentrate more of my efforts. This is not the same as dismissal. Just like you might feel that there are areas of life that you are more or less qualified to comment or act upon. Technologies can empower anyone, so if one group suffers I look at the politics behind the technologies. It might not be your preferred strategy, but I think it ultimately presents a part of the solution, rather than a part of the problem. At least I try to not be presumptuous about people.

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Ah, yes. You pick your battles carefully, and those battles don’t include the safety of women.

As someone who has been a victim to this sort of stuff (MORE THAN ONCE), I consider this battle to be pretty important. But how nice it must be for you not to have to give a shit about women and their safety. It doesn’t effect you so it’s not important. That’s what you’re saying. I find yhat sort of thought process rather astonishing, and sad. The fact that you call ABUSIVE partners “cranky” tells me how little you understand or care about this serious subject.

Technologies can empower anyone, so if one group suffers I look at the politics behind the technologies. It might not be your preferred strategy, but I think it ultimately presents a part of the solution, rather than a part of the problem. At least I try to not be presumptuous about people.

This is basically word salad.

At least I try not to be presumptuous about people.

What do you mean by that? I’m not being presumptuous. I’m responding directly to information you’ve stated about yourself. There’s no presumption. Not to mention that your “at least” is pretty fucking shitty. “I am dismissing and downplaying the dangers women face but at least I’m not being presumptuous!” (Even though I was not, in fact, being presumptuous.) For fucking serious?

I’m sure you’ll move the goal posts some more and come up with some more word salad and Vulcan excuses.

It’s refreshing to see the pivotal dichotomy of power and privacy brought to the forefront of the discussion of fundamental human rights. The refreshing bit, as I see it, is that there’s more than a passing familiarity with the cardinal position of privacy in establishing the domain of the individual - physical, psychological and/or moral.

Privacy is the greatest gift bequeathed us by the revolutionaries of the Enlightenment. Failing to honor and vigorously defend the functions of privacy and the rights that flow therefrom will do more than merely devalue the triumphs of the Enlightenment, failure will condemn humanity to revive and recoronate a technologically robust manifestation of Feudalism (a.k.a. hereditary technocracy).

Not to put too fine a point on it, it is imperative that we - as a species - overcome the long practiced, deeply codified maltreatment of half of our human family before we lose our loves our liberties and our lives.


I agree most strongly with your last paragraph.

My perspective on privacy might seem paradoxical to you. I value having some privacy now, but since I strive to avoid property, territory, and personal problems - I prefer to not need it. Also, in practice, privacy tends to not be absolute, but involve layers of relationships with varying claims of access. I think that autonomy means being able to decide who my trusted parties are (in a negotiational/contractual sense), because a claim of privacy is meaningless if my ability to consent is not recognized. If my neighbor or ex is forbidden from accessing my data, but my ISP or The State can - this is US law currently - then my privacy is nonexistent, because it assumes my consent to a party I do not trust, undermining the whole affair. While if people were recognized as having equal rights and responsibilities by law, I would basically not need privacy in the first place.

If I had to specify what I think is the greatest gift bequeathed us by the revolutionaries of the Enlightenment, I would say that this is agency. We can decide that we have individual goals and values and be recognized in doing so, because it is not assumed that we answer to any superstitious, abstract source of externally-imposed authority. Having my agency respected, means respecting the agency of those around me. This involves fluid inter-dependence and ecology rather than hierarchies and rigid strata.

What I mean is that instead of asking me what I think or feel, you seem to act as though you are entitled to speak on my behalf, and claim for me opinions I do not share! You tell me that:

Which you equate to me expressing a disregard for the safety of women, not giving a shit about women, the problems don’t effect me, aren’t important… You even paraphrase me in quotes as saying “I am dismissing and downplaying the dangers women face”! Does this honestly seem at all fair to you? You assume that I don’t care about problems you have experienced, and so this entitles you to attack me over things I do not agree with and would never say? This is not only putting words in my mouth, which would be distasteful enough, but repeatedly speaking for me in ways I find extremely objectionable. I am not trying to come up with excuses for opinions I do not advocate in the first place.

Please consider the possibility that in a polite conversation you can actually ask about my opinions and experiences. I am a rather open person, even if admittedly eccentric. I am in no way beyond criticism, but I would very much prefer to be criticized for what I actually do say, rather than what someone supposes I must obviously mean.


But you can’t fight classism without fighting sexism, racism, homo/transphobia or any other form of coercive power! If you fight just classism, then there will be new ‘classes’ that are created from those groups that were ignored to fight the bigger battle.

I don’t disagree with this, but there is a clear power imbalance in this case. I am trying to think of a way to empower people to know about computer security, one way I have thought about is a cryptoparty style event for people who run women’s shelters, although I doubt that I could personally do it (the TERFs will object, and I have CFS). Obviously this doesn’t help men who are in abusive relationships or people having problems with other coercive power systems, so it isn’t a complete solution in itself.

Dismissing the problem does not empower the victims!


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You did in fact dismiss and downplay the seriousness of the harassment of women.

Personally, I am more concerned about the power that a utility company or government who I pay for can use against me or the average person, than that of some crank individual with a grudge.

Are you aware that your words are in black and white and that we can go back and read what you’ve written?

“I am more concerned about”


“against me or the average person” (as if women who are victims of this shit aren’t an “average person”)


“cranky individual with a grudge.”

You don’t have any inkling about the seriousness of the topic for over half of the population, and yet you continue to speak as if you do. Why is that?

I did follow this remark with another post explaining the statistical basis of why I said this, but a mod deleted it citing that they didn’t want the conversation to go in that direction. I do not understand why, but I need to respect their decision and not repeat it. Anyway, consider that a person can be compassionate about related problems which affect people, even multiple problems. Working on one problem need not imply disregard of another.

As if? Why would you assume this? If women are more than half of the population, wouldn’t “average” need to include them by default? The average person is likely to be a woman! This presents an example of you making guesses about me and what I mean. I never said whether or not I might be a woman myself.

Just because I think their problems are frivolous and banal does not mean that they can’t be confronted seriously. I think Naziism is banal also, but this is not to imply that I am in any way tolerant of it. You are taking my unstated value judgements against racist and sexist people - agendas which I do think are frivolous, as they depend upon blatantly false reasoning - and assuming that these are my feelings about the people who are their targets, even when I explained that this is not the case.

What you and a few others seem to take difference with, I am guessing, is that I deal with complaints of abuse in tactical, matter-of-fact terms. This seems to come across as unsympathetic, but I think is quite serious indeed. I make a priority of confronting the immediate danger first, instead of deciding to get upset about it. For the practical reason that assessing risks and/or making decisive actions are much more difficult to do without calmness and poise. This is something I have experienced in real life seeing how police handle being in shootouts. And in working regularly with a woman who is a martial arts master who could snap me in half. When in danger, the important thing is concentration.

Perhaps you confuse my “no time to be a victim” attitude with disregard, or inaction. But I believe in calm, deliberate confrontation. If it can be kept civilized is preferable. But this cannot be assumed. There might be another disconnect between differences in how I handle the ideological aspects of these problems, versus defensive actions for immediate safety. Communication can be vitally important, but talk is also cheap when leveraged against violent actions. If I speak as if I haven’t an inking of seriousness, this might be because I personally have been stalked, threatened with assault, assaulted for real, had my family threatened, house watched, been threatened with rape, been actually raped, and had several determined attempts to kill me - by drowning, with vehicles, with firearms. So I am not sure if it is fair to say that I do not acknowledge that these are serious possibilities.

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Statistics? This is about real-life women, not statistics. This discussion isn’t just theoretical for me, even if it is clearly for you. This is about my life. Which has been directly affected by this kind of thing, both by an ex boyfriend and a different man I didn’t date but who screwed me over, and because of his actions, i was forced to resign from my job.

tl;dr the rest of your vulcan, useless mansplaining.