The World Wide Web (www) and the Internet has simplified communication across
the world and has enabled people to interact almost immediately. Unfortunately
however, it has enabled offences such as the forwarding of offensive/harassing
or menacing emails to be directed to innocent recipients.
The forwarding of these types of email may constitute an offence against Commonwealth or State legislation. Investigation of these types of offences relies primarily on the retention of the original email by the recipient.
The following points are offered as a guide to assist you in these circumstances.
- User names can be forged.
- Do not automatically assume the sender is who the email says it is.
- Offenders often use other people’s names or email addresses.
- The email may contain a virus; by opening it you may corrupt your computer.
- Do not delete the original email.
- Retain the original email in your email program, on floppy disk or CD.
- Consider printing a hard copy but ensure you include the complete message source details that may be hidden.
- Consider copying and pasting the message source details into another document
- If you do not know how to obtain the message source details, ask someone or merely retain the original message.
- If you forward the offending email to a third party, it will not include the original message source details that identifies where the email has originated. The original email must be retained to assist in any police investigation.
- Do not reply to the email, any form of reply may simply encourage the person to continue the communication.
- Do not under any circumstances, agree to meet with the person in an attempt to discourage them or tell them how you feel.
- If you believe you know the person, consider asking a friend or solicitor to contact them concerning their behaviour.