IT staff can't be trusted, claim self-appointed software police

Company directors need to be wary of devious IT workers, according to the Federation Against Software Theft, whose approach doesn't convince some experts

IT workers cannot be trusted and may need to be monitored when using the Internet, the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) warned business leaders on Friday.

FAST said that directors should be aware that their company's Internet activity could be being monitored by FAST itself, and any employee who downloads software illegally could make them personally liable for copyright infringement.

“All too often IT policy enforcement and management is left solely to the IT department, in the belief that when IT staff say that correct licences are in place, they are," said John Lovelock, director general at FAST. "But directors must not allow themselves to be fobbed off by IT staff as they can also be the culprits. Company directors need to have a firm grip on their technically able IT staff.”

If an employee is caught using copied software on a business computer, the company could be legally liable. FAST, which recently launched a campaign to monitor Internet traffic on certain networks ports to check for peer-to-peer file activity, said it would not waive any rights to proceed with the "necessary and appropriate legal action" against targets.

FAST was unavailable to comment on how effective this would be, but industry experts were sceptical this approach would work.

"Let's say we get rid of software piracy — will prices drop? Will they hell," said Clive Longbottom, service director for analyst Quocirca. "Name somebody who hasn’t copied software at one time in their life. [This] has got to be done with a degree of common sense, which FAST doesn't always do."

FAST recently discovered more than 5,800 illegal digital music files in a software audit of 2,500 PCs at a UK financial services organisation. Most of these files were illegally downloaded by people in the IT department, FAST claimed.

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