Civil servant fired for googling 'knockers'

A civil servant in Australia was fired last week when he took to Google and searched for "knockers" while using his work laptop at home. "Knockers" is vernacular for women's breasts in different parts of the world and it turns out the Australian government is not okay with its employees searching for the term on the Internet.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the civil servant, who works for the Commonwealth Department of Resources, Energy, and Tourism was allegedly using his own Internet service and was accessing Google during out of work hours and in the privacy of his own home. However, the Australian government had issued him the laptop and was monitoring the man's use of it through a program called Spector360; the software takes a snapshot of the computer's screen every 30 seconds and was apparently programmed to catch the use of the word "knockers."

The man argued to the Federal Court in Canberra that the pornography he downloaded was all legal and that the laptop was given to him for both work and personal use. He stated the software that was spying on his use was a gross invasion of his privacy. The department was also quick to affirm that there was no evidence that the content had made its way to work nor was it sent to other employees.

But the department lawyers counter-argued that the pornography could perhaps reappear at work even by accident.

Justice Nye Perram cast aside that the civil servant's privacy was infringed, saying he should have known about the Spector360 program being installed on his computer. But then Justice Perram noted the case helped reach a standard for it to be overturned; he then declared that "[s]ome might think that the resources of the Commonwealth could be much better [used] on activities apart from the zealous pursuit [of the civil servant] over something he did in his own home which was not against the law."

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Motorola attacks Apple in Super Bowl commercial [Updated]

Next Story

If Egypt can cut off the country's Internet, can the US too?

56 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Doesn't surprise me at how wet and namby pamby the Australian government are.

The have just employed the chief executive of the biggest joke for a quango the GTCe

(General Teaching Council England) to advise and run the Australian education system.

Now google the word ''Tits'' and they are sure to appear.

breasts should not be banned unless your sharing them with others(LOL) and the porn(to a degree) should not be banned unless they get out of a persons control which then, they are liable but if it stays at home and nowhere else, and it is used for personal reasons only then that should not be a bad thing.

Personally if a computer, phone or other device is owned by the company it should not be used for personal purpose. Even if they told him he could use it for personal purposes I'm sure they meant email, social networking and general web browsing, not for looking at 'knockers'.

His privacy wasn't invaded. A work laptop is for work purposes. Looking at porn isn't allowed, regardless of where you are located. That's what he gets for being a dumbass.

Well it seems he was specifically allowed to use it for private purposes as well (not within office hours I assume, although even that seems too draconian to me)

joemailey said,
That's what he gets for being a dumbass.

And what do you get for not reading the full article?
Article - third paragraph
the laptop was given to him for both work and personal use

They should have had Internet filtering software installed, so the employee wouldn't have been able to access the material in the first place.

I think it's fair that he get punished for it but he's getting punished for the wrong reason. The problem I see with his actions is browsing porn tends to increase your risks of getting the computer infected. Given that it's a work laptop that's more than enough reason for them to disallow it. It should be in every company's Acceptable Usage Policy.

Wow... just wow
I didn't know it Australia was a totalitarian state... A company that would do that here would get sooooooooooo sued. In all seriousness, is Australia that conservative?!?!

djesteban said,
Wow... just wow
I didn't know it Australia was a totalitarian state... A company that would do that here would get sooooooooooo sued. In all seriousness, is Australia that conservative?!?!

Sued for what? You break the rules of your workplace, you find a new job.

So if the Government were able to install a nation-wide filter......great.....

But in all seriously, couldn't all this money wasted be spent/save on/for something useful. I mean, the Labor government figuratively rapes us Australian's each day with their new taxes and tax ideas. If maybe they could "monitor" their spending instead?

Kirkburn said,
*sigh*, why even say such ridiculous things?

The day my son was born - SSN paperwork was started for tax ID purposes and his state required birth certificate

Then started the state required safety measures, car seat, etc.

Then the state required immunizations - unless he can be home schooled...I am not that capable

Then state mandated school

Before he is done with that taxes, mandatory registration in case of a "draft"

etc.

Not saying all or any of these are bad, but it does start on day 1.

nkaHnt said,
I think many of us are typing 'Knockers' into the tiny box after reading this post now

And maybe 'spector360'

wow...harsh. but seriously, why would you use a govt rig for something like that, regardless of location? use some common sense.

Buttus said,
lets hope nobody likes owls and searches for 'hooters'

Just looking for my local Hooters restaurant location...

rfirth said,

Just looking for my local Hooters restaurant location...

Anywhere with kids eat free Tuesday is a legitimate family restaurant you can expense.

How do we find door knockers?
oh never mind i type door knockers *facepalm
Didn't realize that till it was typed.. anyways, the lawyer could have said that, right?

Yikes, if that happened here in the US, people would be screaming globalist agenda. Just another sign that the government conditions folks to accept having their privacy invaded.

Izlude said,
Yikes, if that happened here in the US, people would be screaming globalist agenda. Just another sign that the government conditions folks to accept having their privacy invaded.

Government has got nothing to do with it. Employer found porn on employee's work laptop, employee was subsequently fired. Just because the employer was the government doesn't immediately mean that the employee has some magic right to have porn on a company computer.

Must have been a special clause in his contract cos normally there is a 3 warnings before your fired system isn't there?

They probably went the 'gross misconduct' route.
Where in the UK at least, you can be fired without following the disciplinary procedure.
-Although I'm no HR guru.

acnpt said,
They probably went the 'gross misconduct' route.
Where in the UK at least, you can be fired without following the disciplinary procedure.
-Although I'm no HR guru.

Nope.

Gnome said,
I just google'd "knockers" for the first time. Neowin improves my quality of life once again.

+1 Does for me, too.
Although I will stay away from googling it now, being in a McDonald's using the free wifi

GS:lin

De.Bug said,
I would think so, but then again doesn't Australia like filter the internet heavily?

One of the government ministers wants to, but there's no filtering going on currently.

djurbino said,
Stephen Conroy also has it set to report people who google for -"knockers"

Except if they are a politician, apparently politicians are allowed to access porn for "research" purposes and even get 1st class air travel around the world at taxpayers expense for this very important research.

dvb2000 said,
Except if they are a politician, apparently politicians are allowed to access porn for "research" purposes and even get 1st class air travel around the world at taxpayers expense for this very important research.
What has 1st class air travel got to do with this (besides, it's a long standing benefit of having a high status position), and 'research' is actually a potential defence if you have a good reason.