Privacy consultant convicted of cyberstalking

A federal jury has convicted a former computer privacy consultant from Seattle for a cyberstalking campaign threatening sexual assault and other violence against multiple victims.

According to court documents, 34-year-old Sumit Garg engaged in an “extensive campaign” of threats and sexually explicit messaging and social media posts about a woman who used to share an apartment with his spouse.

The jury convicted Garg of one count of conspiracy to engage in cyberstalking, three counts of cyberstalking in violation of a criminal order, and two counts of cyberstalking. He will be sentenced later this year, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said.

Garg faces a minimum prison sentence of three years and a maximum penalty of 30 years of jail time. A federal district court judge will determine the sentence.

According to the DoJ, the convict gained access to the victim's personal information after moving into the apartment with his spouse. He used his computer skills to threaten multiple people in the former roommate's life, including her uncle and boyfriend.

The man also threatened the Seattle police detective who investigated the threats, as well as a prosecuting attorney who filed charges against him. Garg again used his experience in cybersecurity to try and conceal who was sending the threats or making the posts, the DoJ said.

Cyberstalking is a federal crime in the US and falls under a federal stalking statute, which was amended in 2013 to include stalking online or over the phone. According to one estimate, over 7.5 million people, including children, are affected by stalking in the US, both in person and online, every year.

The law made it illegal to use “any interactive computer service or electronic communication service” to conduct activity that places a person “in reasonable fear” of death or serious bodily injury, or that causes or could cause “substantial emotional distress.” The law states that the actions must be intentional.

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