Peter Fairbrother zenadsl6186 at
Wed Mar 30 23:00:38 BST 2011

Roland Perry wrote:
> In article <4D92BBEC.1090706 at>, Peter Tomlinson 
> <pwt at> writes
>> I, too, have forwarded to them some scam emails - and some of those 
>> forwarded by me have been bounced as spam by the police incoming filter.
> I have forwarded several, and they were *all* bounced back by the AF 
> gateway.
> As for the legality of filtering outgoing (or indeed incoming) emails; 
> they are either being dropped, or "returned to sender", neither of which 
> is interception.

The action of filtering them is however most definitely interception in 
law, as the ISPs have to look at the content of the emails in order to 
filter them.

Just looking at the content of an email is interception as defined in 
law (the legal definition of interception in RIPA is more than a bit 
different to the usual meaning of the word), no matter what subsequently 
happens to the email.

Whether the interception is unlawful or not is subject to some debate. 
The general opinion is that most probably it is lawful, under subsection 
3(3) of RIPA:

" Conduct consisting in the interception of a communication is 
authorised by this section if—

(a)it is conduct by or on behalf of a person who provides a postal 
service or a telecommunications service; and

(b)it takes place for purposes connected with the provision or operation 
of that service ... "

   as spam/scam filtering is considered to be necessary to ensure the 
proper operation of the email service.

-- Peter Fairbrother

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