We’re seeing our democratic institutions undermined by online harassment—and the perpetrators of abuse face few consequences. To keep people in the public sphere, people need access to recourse. Journalists, activists and public figures are particularly at risk for online stalking and threats. Restraining orders are primarily available for domestic partners or family members, but they can be obtained in other cases too. However, targets of online harassment who do not know their abusers are often discouraged to file because they may not be aware of civil restraining orders and the process is murky. Together with our pro bono legal partner, Orrick, and the expertise of legal practitioners, we conducted research into civil restraining order processes in five U.S. states, including case law in these areas.
The Online Stalking Legal Project aims to provide a legal resource that can provide people with more transparency about the civil restraining order process. In addition, we hope to distribute our research and resources to organizations, legal professionals and advocacy orgs who can use it to develop new legal recourse projects, research and other initiatives.