Software to snoop on office porn sneaks

Software to target hard porn in the workplace

A British company has launched a software package Wednesday designed to catch employees who access pornography at work. The new system Pornsweeper is able to detect sexually explicit images being transmitted in and out of the workplace via the Internet.

The software examines images arriving by email and determines whether or not they are pornographic. Several products already exist on the market that monitor what Web sites and words are being read or looked at by employees, but the designers of Pornsweeper claim it is 90 percent accurate.

"We wouldn't want to see people's rights to privacy invaded, but we are much opposed to people downloading porn at work," said Sarah Veale, senior employment rights officer at the Trades Union Congress (TUC). The TUC is however concerned that Pornsweeper may encourage employers to implement a more general software package within the workplace that pries into other aspects of peoples' email.

Veale cited an article within the Human Rights Act to be released next month that guarantees privacy within the workplace. "I wouldn't be at all surprised if Pornsweeper will test the law on this," she argued.

The TUC is anxious that employers are warned of the ten percent margin for error in the service. Mobile phone network operator Orange recently sacked over 40 employees for the "distribution of inappropriate material" via email.

Veale argued that Pornsweeper results in the "inherent danger that anyone wrongly accused of downloading porn would have a massive case for demanding huge compensation for not only dismissal but also defamation of character".

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