Not Cease from Exploration

Monday, September 29, 2014

Porn and Politicos

IIt was officially announced late last week that the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office is investigating the sending and receipt of pornographic emails by state government officials.  Some of these government officials are department heads.

You read more about it HERE.

It seems to me that there are three logical parts to this story, so I'm going to deconstruct things a bit.

Part 1 - The Porn
Strictly from an intellectual perspective, I have no problem with pornography.  It's not my cup of tea, but if it is for someone else, well then that's their life and not mine.  However the real world is far different than an intellectual pursuit, and as such I think that one has to consider that the pornography business hasn't had a stellar reputation when it comes to things like the safety of it's "actors".  I am also absolutely certain that there are younger folks who get caught up in the business who probably end up wishing they would have stayed in, say, Iowa.  Let's also not forget that porn can be the source of societal issues through the creation of unrealistic (in the real word outside of porn) body images and expectations.  My biggest gripe, if you want to call it that though, is that porn objectifies people; not just young women, but just about everyone, as it's a business about your "parts" not you the person.

Part 2 - The Government
I've never, ever received a pornographic email at work, despite having worked for the same large financial services company for over a quarter century.  Not one.  Not even by mistake.  It goes without saying that I've never sent one either.  Why?  Well part of it, I suspect, has to do with me (see below), but part of it has to do with the fact that my employer has this crazy notion that allowing pornographic emails at work is is wrong.  I know, that sounds crazy, but it's true.  Now because my employer views it as being wrong, it actually stops such things.  It may not be completely successful all the time, but by and large is is very successful.  In the case of this story, it seems as if there are zero controls in place at a state information technology level to monitor and prevent this kind of stuff.

Part 3 - The People
Lastly, there needs to be a willing audience.  As noted above, I've never received a pornographic email at work in over 25 years of employment.  If I did though, you had better believe that I would immediately act to make sure it wouldn't happen again.  What's more, my employer should be preventing this from ever happening in the first place as well.  How would an employer help me?  Well how about this?

  • Make sure that everyone in the organizations knows that there is a zero tolerance for pornographic emails.  I know, this is like saying "don't kill kittens", but still one has to be specific when it comes to policy stuff.
  • Make sure that the employer has an IT infrastructure to block and prevent these types of emails.  
  • Have a mechanism in place to randomly sample email attachments, especially those coming from outside the organization.  
From a practical standpoint it also involves actions and consequences.  Two come to mind right off the bat:

  • If you receive a pornographic email, you are responsible for reporting that to an appropriate party (such as Human Resources) immediately.  Failing to do that should result in disciplinary actions, up to termination if you are a repeat offender, assuming that you have been given notice that you are responsible for reporting this in the first place.
  • If you are the sender of a pornographic email, you should be terminated immediately.  Zero tolerance.  No second chances.  Do not pass Go.  Do not collect $100.


When it comes to this particular news item I suspect that there zero IT controls in place and even fewer human controls as well.

In the end, Pennsylvania's state government is paid for by all of us.  As a result, we should have a reasonable expectation that state employees are working, not snickering at the daily porno delivery.  In this case, employees (including those represented by a labor union) need to be terminated if they repeatedly engaged in this kind of behavior.  It's really that simple.

No comments: