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Web content filtering - Legal Responsibilities

The following is an extract from, July 2002 in regard to some of the issues relating to web content filtering:-

Nearly one in five companies have fired staff for viewing internet porn while at work, according to the latest figures.

The survey of 544 large HR departments conducted by Websense found that a quarter of firms have sacked workers for internet misuse. Of these sackings the vast majority were for internet pornography.

Three quarters of companies have dealt with cases of internet misuse at some point. After internet pornography, the most common problems were chat rooms or excessive personal emailing. Twenty-three per cent of firms have sacked staff as a result of problems.

Lisa Harris, employment solicitor for law firm Morgan Cole, said: "In most cases employers have no choice but to dismiss people who have breached company rules. In addition employers will do so to avoid the real risk of claims by other members of staff who could claim sexual harassment if offensive material is being sent around the office.

"Problems of that type can end up being very high profile and seriously damage a company's reputation."

... Websense, who commissioned the survey, said companies can help reduce the problems - and their legal liability - by introducing filtering and monitoring of employee computer behaviour.

David Lester, CEO of Crimson Publishing, recently sacked two employees for downloading pornography from the web, and sending it on to staff and clients via email.

Lester said their actions explicitly ignored company policy and the employees had to be dealt with strictly.

"Material of this kind is prone to be virus infected, other staff find it offensive, and it can badly damage our reputation in the outside world," he said. "One of the people we had to let go was actually a very good salesman. So while I regret having to do it, it doesn't mean I want to change my mind."

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