Bullying, serious threats of violence, stalking, selling of stolen goods – If you don’t accept this to happen in the ‘real’ world – then why have we allowed this behaviour to become naturalised online?
The more we introduce the Internet into our everyday activities, the more we need to understand how our behaviour online can affect us in the real world.
At Online Investigations, we believe that by being aware of how simple everyday online activities can land you in trouble – can ultimately prevent serious legal consequences.
Here are some examples of illegal behaviour and tips to keep yourself out of trouble:
Ways to keep out of trouble
What can go wrong
|If you set up a social networking page specifically designed to encourage negative comments, you could end up being accused of defamation.||Although offline gossip about an individual between a couple of friends may be harmless, online comments can have an unexpected impact. Avoid derogatory comments about specific people or organisations.||A Victorian man was sued for defamation when he made comments about a family on his ‘private’ Facebook page which were seen by friends and forwarded to the family,|
|If you make threats or derogatory comments on a Social Networking site, and it becomes public you could be considered to be inciting hatred of an individual.||Threatening people with violence online or offline is a criminal offence. Never post comments encouraging violence against individuals, groups of people or organisations.||A 19 year old South Australian man was convicted of criminal defamation when he made hateful negative comments about a police officer. The court considered his comments as inciting acts of violence against a person in authority.|
|Negative comments or posts on blogs about products, services or businesses can lead to court cases against you.||Some companies encourage comment on their brand or product. But it is not always the case. Think twice before making claims about a product or service that may be defamation.||A man was sued for $30,000 in damages and costs after using a pseudonym to post defamatory comments about a Perth business and its chairman.|
|If you upload to the internet footage of yourself or others engaging in illegal activities, be aware that that footage could be used as evidence against you in court.||
Uploading videos or images of yourself or other people behaving stupidly may seem funny or entertaining but some stupid actions could be illegal. These activities are illegal even if they were intended for the internet. It is foolish to post videos of yourself or others engaging in illegal activity.
A man who placed a webcam on the dashboard of his car to capture his ‘burnouts’ on a suburban road was charged with reckless driving after he posted the film on Facebook.
A Victorian woman encouraged her teenage daughter and her friends to physically assault another teenage girl while she filmed the attack. The footage was posted on MySpace. She was charged with affray and causing serious injury by aiding and abetting teen attackers.
|Storing or passing on images of children in sexualised poses or engaging in sexual activity is illegal.||If someone sends you images of children in inappropriate poses or engaging in sexual activity, it is illegal to be involved in distribution of such images. Report them to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) at www.acma.gov.au/hotline or the Australian Federal Police. If you would prefer to remain anonymous, you can report anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000.||Many people have been convicted and jailed for using their mobile phone or computers to view or send inappropriate images of children.|
|Downloading or distributing pirated music and/or movies or copyright material without permission is illegal.||
Criminal penalties for copyright infringement may be up to $60,500 and 5 years imprisonment per offence for individuals.
Downloading music and videos from legitimate sources will reduce the risk of computer viruses and malware as well legal action against you. If you’re not sure, don’t download it.
|A 21 year old man was jailed for three months after being convicted of uploading on the internet a pirated copy of the Simpsons Movie which he recorded on his mobile on the movie’s first day in cinemas.|
|If you persistently send messages or continue to try and make contact with someone who does not want to have contact with you, your behaviour could be considered stalking.||
If your request to friend someone is rejected or you have been blocked, think twice before persisting.
|A Melbourne woman was refused bail when she appeared in court for the second time on stalking charges. The Melbourne woman was accused of stealing a celebrity’s identity and harassing her and her family through electronic messages. She had previously been bailed on condition she have no access to the internet or email. She did not comply and was rearrested.|
– Examples of the offending behaviour (including screenshots);
– Details of any URL’s (http://www……);
– A chronological timeline of events;
– Information as to any suspects you believe may be responsible for the anonymous behaviour.