Police serve cyber stalker with an intervention order via Facebook

October 20, 2010 |

Today’s report in the Daily Telegraph and Age highlights a growing trend of serving individuals on line.  A police officer served an intervention order by substituted service upon allegd cyber stalker by placing documents on his Facebook page and a video of the order.

The process as described is fascinating. It provides:

In an Australian first, Senior Constable Stuart Walton made a video of himself reading an interim intervention order to the accused man, as if he was directly speaking to him and serving him the order.

The officer was handling a complaint made by a woman about her former boyfriend, whom she claimed had bullied her using Facebook.

The order, explanation and telephone contact numbers were transcribed and sent in private messages to the man’s Facebook account.

The woman had told police on August 23 that she was being threatened, bullied and harassed via the site.

There had been a history of domestic violence in their relationship and an intervention order had lapsed when the woman was contacted by her former boyfriend via Facebook.

After sending the papers and video, police could not confirm whether or not the message had been read by the man, but they were able to ascertain the video had not been opened.

The order also required him to take down his Facebook profile.

The method of serving the order was upheld indefinitely by a magistrate despite the man not attending court.

Sen-Constable Walton then served the final order, again via Facebook, and later learned that although the video wasn’t opened, the messages had been read when he caught up with the accused man a week later.

There is not much precedent in this exercise. It is highly unlikely that the recipient will appeal.  It doesn’t involve property rights or a significant impact on a person’s liberty. That said the move is on.  It is a matter of time before court process in civil matters will be served on line. The real issue issue is whether this will remain a means of substituted service or a matter of course.

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