Jayne Hitchcock

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Jayne A. Hitchcock (born November 9, 1958 in Saco , Maine ) is an American writer and anti-cyberstalking activist.


Jayne Hitchcock worked as an author of children's books in the 1990s. She temporarily lived in Okinawa , Japan with her then-husband, a member of the US Marine Corps . She returned to Maryland in late 1995 and was looking for an agent .

Confrontation with Woodside

In January 1996, in response to an advertisement on a Usenet newsgroup , Hitchcock sent a manuscript to the Woodside Literacy Agency . She received a phone call congratulating her on her submission, but required a payment of $ 75 as a "reading fee". Hitchcock declined, stating that the ad made no reference to such a fee. Your submission was then rejected. After initial hints, various users deliberately sent bad texts to the publisher for test purposes, which with one single exception were accepted without exception, with corresponding fees of variable amounts being charged in each case. In the following months, warnings about Woodside's practices began to appear on Usenet, including by Hitchcock and the author Jack Mingo , who warned of unfair fees. Woodside owner James Leonard responded with a campaign against Hitchcock and Mingo. Mingo was falsely denigrated as a charlatan who was rejected by all publishers. In December 1996, Leonard began to fake Hitchcock's identity on Usenet and post messages on her behalf. In dozens of newsgroups, he distributed fake messages in which Hitchcock apparently expressed interest in sadomasochistic user meetings, giving his full address and telephone number . She then received dozens of calls a day. The mail accounts of Hitchcock, her husband and that of her employer were flooded with spam via various providers .

In response to the campaign directed against them, Hitchcock founded the organization "Working to Halt Online Abuse" (WHOA) in January 1997 and sought legal ways to defend himself. However, the Maryland police declined to intervene, as harassment and stalking were only punishable there at the time if there was direct personal contact. The FBI also declined to investigate because online stalking was not a federal crime. After Hitchcock filed a complaint, the harassment increased. Fake CD and book club memberships have been taken out on their behalf. A Woodside employee accused Hitchcock of fraud; her neighbors and employers were contacted to find out information (including Hitchcock's changed phone number). Hitchcock's attorney received anonymous death threats. Hitchcock himself then acquired a firearm for self-defense. Your employer would receive bogus notice of termination. After a suspicious, unwanted package was delivered, police advised Hitchcock to leave the house immediately. Upon inspection, the contents turned out to be incense .

Legal engagement

Hitchcock advocated changes to the law to include electronic harassment and turned to Samuel I. Rosenberg , representing her district in the Maryland House of Representatives . The online harassment bill he submitted was initially not adopted in 1997, but Maryland made email harassment a criminal offense as early as 1998 . Hitchcock drove her commitment through nationwide lecture tours and testimony to various committees, as a result of which the states of Maine, California and New Hampshire passed corresponding laws against electronic harassment. In a 1999 statement to the US Congress , Hitchcock emphasized the need for cyberstalking to be recognized as a federal crime, as offenders in other states often cannot be prosecuted. The US House of Representatives initially endorsed the “Stalking and Victim Protection Act”, which was blocked by the US Senate .

The lawsuit and counterclaim between Hitchcock and Woodside dragged on for years and ended in 2001 with Woodside's admission of guilt. Leonard was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment and 3 years probation for conspiracy to commit fraud by e-mail and false accusations, his employees to a suspended sentence due to their poor health. In addition, compensation was paid to authors, including Hitchcock; the details of the related agreement were not made public. The Woodside case has been received and described many times and illustrates typical structures of online stalking.

Activism against cyberstalking

Today, Hitchcock is considered an expert on computer crime , cyberstalking and cyberbullying. She is a volunteer with the US Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime, the National Center for Victims of Crime, and advises lawmakers and law enforcement agencies worldwide. She is president of the volunteer organization Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHOA) and WHOA-KTD (Kids / Teens Division) and gives lectures at schools and universities on the subject of internet safety. Hitchcock is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Cyber ​​Crimes and Criminal Justice (IJCCCJ). In 2006, Paul Bocij described Jayne Hitchcock as “perhaps the most famous cyber security advocate”.

Hitchcock advocates the verification of accounts in online social networks through personal identification (e.g. through social security number or credit card) in order to prevent cyberstalking. She supported a draft law that should make dating portals a requirement to disclose by means of a disclaimer whether they carry out queries in criminal databases for their users. After her divorce, she met a new partner through the True.com portal . She had chosen this because it was the first portal to carry out background checks of registered users in order to curb abuse.


  • 2015: Mary Litynski Award from the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group
  • 2004: Champion for Change of Lifetime Television



  • True Crime Online: Shocking Stories of Scamming, Stalking, Murder, and Mayhem . CyberAge Books, 2012
  • Net Crimes & Misdemeanors: Outmaneuvering Web Spammers, Stalkers, and Con Artists . Information Today, 2002 (2nd edition 2006)

Children's books

  • Gil the gecko . Barclay, 1995
  • The Adventures of Gil the Gecko . Shiba Hill, 2011


  • Okinawa Tour Guide . Ryukyus International Foundation, 1993
  • Folktales of Okinawa . Ryukyus International Foundation, 1994
  • The Ghosts of Okinawa . Shiba Hill, 1996
  • When I see you again . Shiba Hill, 2012

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Stephen J. Morewitz: Stalking and Violence: New Patterns of Trauma and Obsession . Springer, 2003, p. 19
  2. ^ A b Paul Mingo: Nowhere to hide . Los Angeles Times, February 10, 1997
  3. ^ Michael Newton: The Encyclopedia of High-tech Crime and Crime-fighting . Infobase Publishing, 2003, p. 339
  4. a b c Paul Bocij: cyberstalking: Harassment in the Internet Age and how to Protect Your Family . Greenwood, 2004. pp. 1-3
  5. a b c Danielle Keats Citron: Hate Crimes in Cyberspace . Harvard University Press, 2014, pp. 103-105
  6. ^ Sharon Kleinman: The Culture of Efficiency: Technology in Everyday Life . Peter Lang, 2009, p. 238
  7. ^ John Hendren: Online Harassment Bill Gains Momentum . Los Angeles Times, May 27, 1997
  8. Harry Henderson: Online Predators . Infobase Publishing, 2005, p. 117
  9. Spotlight: Jayne A. Hitchcock . Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center
  10. Paul Bocij: The Dark Side of the Internet: Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Online Criminals . Greenwood, 2006, p. 172
  11. ^ Ohio man charged with using MySpace to intimidate region victims . The Times of Northwest Indiana, March 11, 2009
  12. Online Dating Dangers . WCTV, April 5, 2005
  13. ^ David Crary: Background checks split online dating industry . CBS News, February 11, 2008
  14. ^ Hitchcock Recognized for Assisting Victims and Educating Users . m3aawg.com, February 17, 2015