Child pornography at the workplace

Employers could face charges if employees are caught with offensive material on company equipment

Companies could be on the hook if employees are found with child pornography on their workplace computers, according to the Toronto Police Service.

Staff Superintendent Gary Ellis, head of the Toronto Police sex-crimes unit, said corporations and company officials could face charges if they know an employee has the material on a workplace computer and does nothing about it.

“We’re not saying companies should spy on their employees,” Ellis told the Globe and Mail. “We’re asking employers to be responsible. They’re responsible for what goes through their computers.”

Ellis made the comments after two men were arrested for possession of child pornography. In these cases, police allege both suspects had the offensive material on their work and home computers. He suggested that companies should adopt strict policies for dealing with the problem, which he said is a growing one.

Deputy Chief Mike Boyd said police will inform companies if they find out a suspect has downloaded child pornography, and the company could be charged if it doesn’t remove the material immediately. In addition, organizations should report any pornography they discover to police, he said.

The sex-crimes unit receives about two or three calls a week from companies that find pornography on their systems, but don’t know their legal rights. Ellis said companies do have the right to check what employees do with company equipment.

Check out the upcoming Guide to HR Technology, in the Nov. 4 edition of Canadian HR Reporter, for a detailed look on how to set up an Internet-use policy.

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