Senior public servant in Oz sacked for Googling ‘knockers’ at home

Friday, February 4, 2011

SYDNEY - A senior public servant in Australia has been sacked after he Googled the word “knockers”, and looked at legal pornography on a work laptop at his own home.


Even though the man, from the Commonwealth Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, had used his own Internet service provider, a software program, called Spector360, which had been set up by the department to catch any use of the word “knockers”, caught him out.

The program, which takes a snapshot of a user’s desktop every 30 seconds, was then used to unearth the Internet history of the man with a 25-year career with the public service.

It uncovered his usage even though he had deleted his browser history.

The public servant, who has not been named, argued in the Federal Court in Canberra that the searches by Spector360 while he was at home were a “gross” breach of his privacy and the department had given him the laptop for personal use.

The Federal Court heard there was no evidence anyone else saw the pornography.

“Other persons in his workplace were not scandalised by being exposed to them [the images] and there is no evidence that he passed any of the material on to others,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Justice Nye Perram as saying.

But the department countered that it had clear policies against the use of work computers for pornography and it regarded it as a “very serious matter”.

Government lawyers argued that it had legitimate concerns that even if the pornography was viewed at home there was a risk it could accidentally reappear at work.

The Commonwealth had always made it clear that it monitored computer use.

Justice Perram said the senior public servant, who was also on an IT subcommittee, should have been aware he was being monitored. He dismissed his application and ordered him to pay the department’s costs.

The judge said that, while the sacking might be harsh, it was reasonable, as the public servant had dissembled when asked about his Internet usage, which led to an “adverse” view about his integrity.

He also rejected the argument that the public servant’s privacy had been infringed.

“It was not his laptop and its owner had asked him not to use it to view pornography,” he stated. (ANI)

Filed under: Laptop, World

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