Computer porn an issue for seven out of 10 firms

2004

Seven out of 10 UK companies have had to discipline staff because they have been viewing pornographic images on their company computers, a survey has found.

The shock finding comes from research conducted by computer image detection company PixAlert in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

The survey has also shown that more than half of senior managers questioned were unaware of their personal legal and civil liability for illegal and inappropriate images in the workplace.

Worse, two out of every three companies polled had not kept their computer “Acceptable Usage Policy” up to date, exposing them to potential criminal or civil claims.

Most of the 200 companies questioned had some technology in place to provide a degree of protection to prevent illegal and inappropriate images getting on to the corporate network via the web or email.

But nearly seven out of 10 had not installed technology capable of identifying improper images, which can enter through desktop or laptop computers on memory sticks, CDs/DVDs and camera phones, for example.

Dave McLoughlin, director of PixAlert, said: “In a climate where the obligations for corporate governance are increasing, the survey highlights that a high number of companies and their directors are exposed to the risks and potential liabilities from illegal and inappropriate images in the workplace.”

“Companies need to tackle this sensitive issue with a combination of good policies and procedures and the deployment of suitable technology,” he added.

CIPD adviser Imogen Haslam warned that many employees viewed inappropriate computer images “as a bit of harmless fun”.

But she added: “A culture where some dodgy pictures are tolerated can all too easily create the environment where far more offensive or even illegal images can find their way into an organisation - by accident or otherwise.

"Employers need to have clear, consistent policies that leave no room for doubt in the minds of employees. A little tolerance could cause a lot of trouble later.”