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Poll: Office a hotspot for sex surfing
Updated: 2004-02-15 10:12

Close to one in four U.S. employees use workplace computers to engage in sexually explicit activity, from logging on to X-rated Web sites to swapping passionate messages in chatrooms, according to a study.

Twice as many men than women use the company computer to access sexually explicit Web sites.
At the same time, nearly half of those surveyed believe this abuse is hurting office productivity, according to the "America at Work" survey commissioned by the Employment Law Alliance (ELA).

"This poll sheds new light on the number of employees who are misusing workplace computers for romantic or sexual purposes," Charles Huddleston, of law firm Arnall Golden Gregory, told Reuters news agency.

"It's a significant issue for employers, considering how much productivity is lost and the difficulty involved with confronting the issue."

The poll of 826 employees found that 24 percent of respondents were using a company computer for sexual or romantic purposes.

Many companies are concerned about legal liability and some monitor Web and e-mail use, although privacy advocates are relieved that firms are moving away from this method opting instead to block sites automatically.

The advice from lawyers is that employers need to be very clear about what they tell their staff.

"It is obviously more sensible if there is a clear policy and employees are told what they can or cannot do, it just avoids confusion, it avoids the employee upsetting the employer," David Ellis, partner at law firm Johnson Stokes and Masters in Hong Kong told CNN.

"So they ought to be told if there are things they cannot use the Internet for and if the company is going to be snooping on e-mails."

The poll also found that 12 percent had forwarded sexually explicit e-mail content to co-workers while they were at work.

Six percent said they or a co-worker had engaged in sexually explicit online chat or instant messaging while in the office, and 10 percent said they or a colleague had used office Internet access for online dating.

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