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Internet porn

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Internet porn is sexually explicit content made available online in various formats including images, video files, video games and streaming video.

The legitimacy of pornography is a controversial issue. In the corporate world, however, Internet porn is unquestionably problematic. According to M. J. McMahon, publisher of AVN magazine, a trade publication that tracks the adult video industry, porn sites receive more hits during business hours than at other times of the day. Nielsen reported that 25% of employees access porn during business hours. 

Employees surfing porn wastes corporate resources and lowers productivity. Furthermore, the business may be legally responsible for illicit acts on the part of the employee, such as distributing child pornography or sending pornographic content – perhaps in an email message with a corporate signature -- to someone who doesn’t want to receive it. Because porn sites are known sources of viruses, spyware and adware, they also pose a security risk to users’ computers and the corporate network.

Many organizations use Web monitoring software to track employees’ online activity. Such software usually monitors Web site visits, email, IM, chat and searches in internal applications. It may also include a keylogger, to track what employees type. Email image monitoring programs can identify and block pornographic images. Monitoring software typically issues reports in the event of any breach of an organization’s acceptable use policy (AUP), identifying the employee and details of the activity.

The easy and usually free access to online porn, in combination with user anonymity, can lead to obsessive use. Obsessive use of Internet porn, online gaming and communication (which includes social media, email and instant messaging) are the three main variants of Internet addiction disorder (IAD), which is under review for inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

This was last updated in June 2012

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