HR staff face penalties under new computer porn laws

HR professionals could face hefty fines, prison sentences, and even be placed on the sex offenders register under new laws covering pornographic images downloaded onto computers.


Measures in the new Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, which came into force on 26 January, make it an offence to possess pornographic images of an extreme nature.


International IT lawyer Brian Bandey claimed senior executives could be found guilty under the new legislation if an employee downloads and stores images depicting extreme pornography on their work PC or laptop.


In addition, employers would be vicariously liable under ordinary safety at work legislation if they do not take reasonable steps to prevent such images from being stored on their systems and they are then seen by another employee.


“The risks and the penalties are very real, and it is important for those in authority to be aware of this update to UK law,” Bandey said.


“Corporate officers, together with the employees in question, could end up on the sexual offenders register – the officers through vicarious liability, and the employee as primary offender. Ignorance of the law is no defence.”


Web security provider Marshal8e6 said the new law demonstrated the need for companies to apply rigorous filters to their web and e-mail systems.

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