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19 Feb 2007

Sending offensive emails can land you on the UK sex offenders' register

Amendments to the UK Sexual Offences Act mean that senders of sexually explicit emails can face serious consequences

Senders of sexually explicit emails can face serious consequences.
Senders of sexually explicit emails can face serious consequences.

With senders of indecent emails now risking naming and shaming, Sophos, a world leader in IT security and control, underlines the importance of thinking twice before forwarding a potentially offensive email.

According to media reports, a recent amendment in the Sexual Offences Act, first introduced in 2003, now lists electronic communication found to be 'grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character' as punishable by a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, also known as SOPO.

The order prohibits the defendant from engaging in any of the listed activities for a minimum of five years. Recipients of the order are also added to the sex offenders' register.

Not only should businesses take heed, but UK spammers who use offensive or explicit words in their unsolicited messages also risk facing these consequences.

"Being listed on the sex offenders' register is no laughing matter," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. "Although some senders might intentionally want to cause upset with an offensive email, others might see it as a joke or a marketing tactic. The problem is that a recipient might see things very differently, so it is wise to think twice before pressing the send button. Businesses should clearly explain their electronic communication policies to their employees as well as consider a security solution to help block undesirable messages from reaching a recipient's desktop."

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at