Be text alert, not alarmed

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NSW Police are warning SMS and email users to stop sending messages warning others of potential terrorist threats.

NSW Police are warning SMS and email users to stop sending messages warning others of potential terrorist threats.

In a recent public statement, NSW Police gave a gentle reminder of the offences relating to public mischief and the broadcast of unsubstantiated emails and text messages.

The move was prompted by an increase in the number of people using email and text messages to warn workmates of potential terrorist threats in metropolitan Sydney.

While no-one has yet been arrested for sending the warnings NSW Police claim the text and emails had still caused public concern and the diversion of police resources away from major investigations.

According to counter terrorist co-ordination command superintendent, Nick Caldas, it was impossible to assess how many texts and emails were sent.

“The handful that were brought to the attention of police were assessed and found to be unsubstantiated,” he said.

Caldas would not comment on whether individuals had the right to send friends, co-workers or family members warnings if they believed a terror threat to be imminent.

However, he said the public's privacy had not been invaded in the collection of the emails and text.

“No bugging or intercepting took place,” Caldas said. “It was all brought to police attention by way of complaint.”

NSW Police urged employers to ensure corporate email systems were not used by employees to generate or perpetuate similar types of messages.

Similarly, members of the public were asked to show restraint when transmitting unsubstantiated threats and rumours to their friends and colleagues

Public mischief offences can carry a maximum $5,500 fine or 12 months jail or both.
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