computers
Australia

Should Employees Be Fired For Using Their Job-Provided Laptops To Look Up Porn?

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Here’s a fascinating privacy debate for y’all to chew on this (big) Friday afternoon. A public official in Australia was sacked after it was discovered that he had searched for “knockers” on his work-provided computer. The computer had been running monitoring software, Spector360, that took screenshots every 30 seconds, so it found him looking for “knockers” even though he had deleted his browser history. Here’s where it gets complicated. The public official was browsing from his home and was not browsing during work hours. “Me time,” in other words. The question is: should employees be fired for what they do with work-provided equipment if they’re not doing so on company time, let alone at the company’s offices?

The public official was a 25-year veteran; he wasn’t some kid just out of school with minimal training. He argued in court that what happened to him amounted to a “gross” breach of privacy after having trying to argue that he was merely conducting research. Hmm.

Against this we have the government’s case that the computer patently didn’t belong to him, and that it had asked him, and all its employees, not to use it to view pornography. A simple enough request, right?

Now the big question: who’s right here? Is the public official right to accuse the government of a “gross” breach of privacy, or did the government overreact by sacking him? There wasn’t any lighter reprimand the government could have doled out?

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