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Recently, 14 DVLA – that’s the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, not a paramilitary organisation – employees were sacked for sending pornographic emails. Scratching the surface of this story, it seems that particularly dull messages had been accompanied by pictures of naughty ladies to liven them up a bit.

This article appears in the September 06 issue of PC Advisor, which is available now in all good newsagents.

It’s as though the antics of mechanics with their titillating calendars are spreading to the office. I’m sure most of us would agree it’s unacceptable to do this sort of thing in the workplace, as well as being pretty tasteless. Nevertheless, no one would kick up a fuss if someone brought a copy of The Sun into the office, despite only having to turn to page three to see the aforementioned rude bits.

The question is, when does something cease to be ’just a bit of fun’ and turn into something that could be construed as harassment, intimidation or worse, something that could land employer and employee alike in legal schtuck?

I was recently asked to talk on the radio about a government agency that had found 15 percent of its computer systems contained ’illegal’ files. Although it was unclear at the time what was meant by illegal – whether they broke the law or didn’t adhere to the organisation’s IT policies – it showed that employers still need to make it clear to employees what is acceptable.

Add to this some degree of monitoring, and this sort of thing can be nipped in the bud, before it escalates into a similar situation as that seen at the DVLA.

I’m not saying that all internet traffic and email should have to be checked. But we should implement some systems that alerts managers that big files are being downloaded, or if unusually high numbers of files or large images are being attached to internal emails.

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