Harassment from a Gmail user

Google hides the source IP address of messages they send out and won't take complaints directly from harassment victims.

Michael Horowitz
Michael Horowitz

Michael Horowitz wrote his first computer program in 1973 and has been a computer nerd ever since. He spent more than 20 years working in an IBM mainframe (MVS) environment. He has worked in the research and development group of a large Wall Street financial company, and has been a technical writer for a mainframe software company.

He teaches a large range of self-developed classes, the underlying theme being Defensive Computing. Michael is an independent computer consultant, working with small businesses and the self-employed. He can be heard weekly on The Personal Computer Show on WBAI.


Previously I suggested not letting children receive email from Gmail because they hide the source IP address making it easier for bad guys to hide. In contrast, the free webmail services from Yahoo and Hotmail do not hide the source IP address.

In response, Google pointed me to an item at the Gmail help center called Harassment from a Gmail user. Below is what Google has to say regarding harassing emails from a Gmail user.

"... if you feel that you are in danger, we suggest contacting your local authorities.
Because message headers and senders can be spoofed using a variety of means, we're unable to take action on any user without further verification. In accordance with state and federal law, it is Google's policy only to provide information about a specific Gmail user pursuant to a valid third party subpoena or other appropriate legal process.
We apologize for any inconvenience, and we're sorry that you're receiving such messages."

Google won't take complaints directly from harassment victims and they omit contact information for law enforcement agencies. Not particularly comforting.

Judge for yourself, but I think this validates my prior suggestion not to let children receive email from Gmail users. The source IP address can not directly identify someone, (for more about this see What does your IP address say about you?) but victims of harassment are far better off with it than without it.

See a summary of all my Defensive Computing postings.