Senders of sexually explicit e-mails could face serious consequences – and innocent users are warned to think twice before forwarding e-mails that could be considered offensive.
A recent amendment in the UK's 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," says Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. "Although some senders might intentionally want to cause upset with an offensive e-mail, 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."