'Close the net on work porn'

WORKPLACES should adopt more stringent guidelines relating to internet usage and child sex exploitation images, a report by Tasmanian researchers suggests.

University of Tasmania law researchers Jeremy Pritchard and Caroline Spiranovic were commissioned by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to consider research that looked at child exploitation material in workplace contexts.

The report found considerable benefit in the suggestion that workplaces introduce codes to stipulate what child exploitation material is, and to have clear guidelines which remove excuses for would-be offenders when material was viewed.

Increased monitoring by workplaces of internet usage was also examined.

Tasmania does not have a Children’s Commissioner but a government spokeswoman said the government ‘‘will review the report and consider the recommendations’’.

Bravehearts criminologist Carol Ronken said a proportion of the population believed that viewing child exploitation material did not harm anyone, and proactive responses to raise awareness was a good thing.

‘‘Workplaces need to have child protection policies in place to manage risk,’’ Ms Ronken said.

‘‘Certainly, and in particular in child-related organisations, ensuring that there is filtering software installed to prevent access to illegal material is an important step to take.’’

Digital Tasmania spokesman Andrew Connor said that businesses should always monitor staff internet usage for illegal activity in the workplace, with institutions such as universities already monitoring activities.

But it came at a high price.

He said the difference between accidental and deliberate viewing could be made with monitoring.

‘‘For instance if you see a few hits of a website within a few seconds that never got visited again that is accidental, but if it is over a few minutes, that would be deliberate.’’

University of South Australia academic Lesley-Anne Ey said monitoring would not be an invasion of workplace privacy.

‘‘Any effort to try and prevent that sort of activity in the workplace is going to be received positively by child protection advocates but ... I don’t think it is  going to be the solution.

‘‘Some people have already been caught out accessing images that exploit children in the workplace but I think it is unlikely that hardcore paedophiles are going to be placing themselves under that sort of risk.’’

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