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."

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