You are the manager of an information centre in which there are Internet terminals for public use. Staff report that they have noticed a user accessing pornographic sites, and they suspect that he may be trying deliberately to offend them and other users. They ask you not only to deal with this case, but to find ways of stopping similar things in future. 1.2
Computer misuse can be complicated to identify but it is clear that public debate focuses on the theme of pornography . Internet pornography is a growing public concern. In 2001, 2% of all websites (around 74,000 sites) contained adult pornographic material, with an estimated 20,000 new pages added per day . This report highlights some of the issues raised by the above scenario and suggests measures that could be taken to gain fuller understanding and propose a possible solution.
In the arena of Strategic Management, an ethical issue is one which can either benefit or bring harm to others . It is the responsibility of individuals to determine whether their actions will affect those around them. Pornography is one of many issues which are generally not acceptable in our information centre, let alone society as a whole. 2.1.1
Freedom of access
The Internet is a public resource; anyone with the correct software and tools can access it and make use of it.
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions states that “intellectual freedom is the right of every individual both to hold and express opinions and to seek and receive information” . As an information centre, we are expected to provide access to a range of information resources but it has to be understood that we are willing to and capable of restricting these services if we feel they are being abused. 2.1.2
There is a palpable need to establish a balance between the information centre’s desire for control to protect individuals and a user’s right to privacy. As stated under Section 46 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 , it is legal for me as a manager to view images in order to decide whether they are classified as indecent. As a further protection for the centre, I will be informing an authority such as the police or the Internet Watch Foundation. Situations can become complicated when considering invading a person’s privacy. We at the centre need to review our existing policy on rights to privacy and also check with a professional body concerning our legal rights to invade user privacy. 2.1.3
Concerns for other users
The number and types of people using services like ours has risen. There are typical business users or tourists, who check e-mail or business appointments ; and there are also younger customers who use services like online messaging. There is a risk that some of our younger customers could be affected by others accessing pornography. This leads to concerns for parents and in turn for our centre. We could experience a decrease in the number of users which may result in loss of service and revenue.
Accessing pornographic images is a complicated area of the law. There are differing arguments as the law is not strictly clear. The Crown Prosecution Service rarely allows prosecutions where only a handful of images are found; where there are more, the scenario will be different. It has been said that one cannot commit this type of crime accidentally; one can stumble over indecent images but cannot accidentally download, save or make copies . Possession of adult pornography carries a different punishment to that for possession of child pornography, which can result in up to three years imprisonment. The US has obscenity laws in place which prohibit the posting of “lewd” material on the Internet . This further demonstrates the seriousness of our current situation. It will be necessary for us to investigate the legalities...
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