Porn filters: Use 'em

Stupid user trick No. 10: Turn it on, or put your company in a compromising position

Incident: A friend gave me this one, and yet another surprising story because it happened only four years ago. A senior management executive calls a status meeting in his office with two midlevel managers, both of whom are female, one of whom has a law degree. The senior guy has a large office, with a small, four-person meeting table at one end near the window and his large desk and credenza at the other. He’s set up his desk so that his work area faces the interior of the office. His PC is located directly behind him on the credenza so that he has to turn around to use it. The screen faces the interior of the office. Stage set.

He sets up the meeting so that the two women are at the far end of the meeting table, facing his desk; he’s on the other side of the table, desk behind him. The meeting goes along fine until his screensaver comes on. Apparently, he’d had it set to “slideshow,” with the picture library coming from a rather extensive collection of XXX, all-action-all-the-time porn he’d been collecting off the Internet. The women don’t know what to do, so they just finish the meeting trying to stare at the tabletop as much as possible. Then they trek out of his office as quickly as they can before he notices what’s playing behind him.

Three days later, the second female manager files suit. They settle. The senior guy gets a talking-to -- but doesn’t get fired. (Wow!) So, my friend gets called in to discuss the purchase of technology that might prevent this kind of problem in the future. My friend explains that the company’s SonicWall appliance already has that capability built-in. Management calls the company’s IT guy, and he explains that he was told not to turn that function on by, surprise, the very senior exec who had his porn slideshow rolling. At this point, the CEO is grimacing, massaging the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. He needs Advil.

Fallout: The SonicWall anti-porn filters got turned on. The senior exec left “to pursue other interests” three months later.

Moral: Strongly worded memos and HR policies only get you so far -- especially if you don’t even enforce them when they’re broken. Meantime, turn on those porn filters and kill that stuff where it lives.

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