Editor's Note: Companies Must Provide Direction - InformationWeek

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Commentary
3/4/2003
02:07 PM
Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl
Commentary
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Editor's Note: Companies Must Provide Direction

Say you're an IT employee. You discover that an employee's computer has child pornography stored on it. What do you do? Do you report it? To whom? Your manager? Human resources? The police? The FBI?

On p. 22, senior editor-at-large John Foley digs into a case that began when two IT employees found child pornography on the computer of a New York Law School professor. The professor was arrested and has since resigned. The IT workers, however, lost their jobs. Their former employer, Collegis, says their dismissal was unrelated to the fact that they blew the whistle on the professor. The IT workers have filed a lawsuit charging New York Law School and Collegis with retaliation for their reporting the child pornography.

Whatever the outcome, this should be a wake-up call for any company that doesn't have a clear policy for guiding employees on what to do if they encounter anything illegal--and specifically child pornography--on a fellow employee's computer. This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated and should specifically be addressed in a company policy, including to what extent a company will deal with any employee found with such filth (i.e., immediately reporting it to local and federal authorities, immediate dismissal, etc.).

Waiting for something unfortunate to happen isn't the time to start figuring out how to deal with it, says Parry Aftab, cybercrime expert, who provides policy guidelines on p. 94. Many companies, Aftab says, elect not to report employees' criminal activities to law enforcement. Instead, they handle these activities as a violation of company policy. "Often, fearing adverse publicity, companies merely terminate the suspected employee. Unfortunately, this means that the criminals just change jobs, not their conduct."

If your company doesn't have a clear policy on what to do, it's time to start asking why.

Stephanie Stahl
Editor
[email protected]

The complaint by the IT workers is posted at informationweek.com/938/complaint.htm, and a response from Collegis is at informationweek.com/938/collegis.htm.


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