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Blow the Whistle, Lose Your Job?

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the are-you-moral-or-wise dept.

The Courts 839

ccnull writes "You're a systems admin. On a routine PC repair, you discover a trove of child porn on an employee's PC. You call the cops. The employee pleads guilty and goes to jail. Then what do you do? You get fired. InformationWeek has an interesting expose on whistleblowers who lost their jobs, they say, because they publicly embarassed the company. The company has another version of the story. No matter what the reality is, at the center of this is a good question: If you discover illegal goodies on a machine, what should you do about it?"

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839 comments

Shiggity (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981308)

Shwa

Re:Shiggity (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981344)

Group X? I thought I was the only person who knew about them.

Later.

#1 Reason why DVD-R is a must at work... (1, Funny)

sk3tch (165010) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981313)

...so you can horde all of the contraband you discover on workstations and servers. :)

Re:#1 Reason why DVD-R is a must at work... (1)

Neophytus (642863) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981321)

I'm sure your boss would love you hording child porn.

Re:#1 Reason why DVD-R is a must at work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981424)

Why would his boss care? Why would you care, for that matter?

Re:#1 Reason why DVD-R is a must at work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981501)

I'll be looking for you outside the elementary school in the beat-up black Econoline van. The one with cardboard over the back windows.

tell your boss and not the police.....?? (0, Flamebait)

neoform (551705) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981319)

why not let them embarass the company.. or just cover it up..

Re:tell your boss and not the police.....?? (3, Informative)

feepcreature (623518) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981369)

"Tell your boss... why not let them embarass the company"

According to the employer's response, that's exactlty what happened in this case.

The two plaintiffs, who discovered the pornography, reported it to their supervisor, who in turn reported the felony to law school administrators. This was entirely consistent with the policy of Collegis...
What happened after that, and why, is less clear.

The problem with the other option - covering it up - could be that some children would continue to be abused.

Re:tell your boss and not the police.....?? (4, Interesting)

mnmn (145599) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981474)

The Boss will either just fire the employee or call the cops herself. Regardless, you should call the cops too, especially in the case of child porn which is quite serious.

Ideally you should alert the boss first to prepare for the embarassment and have the spokesman prepare statements before the employee is carried away. Tell her, I intend to notify the cops, she wont be able to stop you then. If she tries to stop you, and you tell the cops, and get fired, youd have a lot against the boss too.

blackmail (0, Troll)

shione (666388) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981322)

thats how you get up the corporate ladder these days and have some 'fun' along the way.

Why do people enjoy pornography? (-1, Troll)

A Proud American (657806) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981323)

I've always found it boring, cheezy, and fairly degrading toward women.

What's the big deal?

Re:Why do people enjoy pornography? (5, Funny)

seinman (463076) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981328)

What's the big deal?
Boobs.

Re:Why do people enjoy pornography? (-1, Troll)

A Proud American (657806) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981422)

Your immaturity and lack of respect for women are two good reasons why you'll probably be sitting at home by yourself tonight instead of out on a date with a special someone.

I pity you. I honestly do.

Re:Why do people enjoy pornography? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981500)

oh, god. another self-righteous asshole with a gf

Re:Why do people enjoy pornography? (0, Troll)

Bold Marauder (673130) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981383)

I believe that what is worse is how it is degrading towards men. Given how addictive it is, and the many cases where formerly up-standing memboers of respectable churches abandon their faith and families simply to feed their porn addiction.

Yes, I believe that is what is worse, by far.

Illegal things... (5, Insightful)

NamShubCMX (595740) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981324)

I don't think I would tell about most "illegal" stuff I could find on a computer...

But child porn... I'd tell for sure. Fire me if you will...

Re:Illegal things... (5, Funny)

pizzaman100 (588500) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981406)

Exactly. If I found child porn, I would report it. If I found a screener of the Matrix Reloaded I would co.. nevermind. :)

How about go through proper channels? (2, Insightful)

alzoron (210577) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981325)

When you're at work you're acting as an agent of your employer. You should always go through your proper chain of command until the situation is resolved. The last step in the chain being law enforcement.

Re:How about go through proper channels? (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981373)

I absolutely agree. And the first step in the chain should be the employee himself. Confront him, and explain the trouble he could get himself and his company into for having that garbage on a company machine. Advise him to erase it, or at least encrypt it and transfer it to his home computer. That would probably be enough to make the problem go away. If the employee doesn't do anything about it, then go to the boss, explaining politely the serious legal trouble the company could get into otherwise.

Re:How about go through proper channels? (0, Troll)

domninus.DDR (582538) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981394)

"Advise him to erase it, or at least encrypt it and transfer it to his home computer."

so you condone the explotation of children?

Excuse me, but WTF!!?!? (2, Insightful)

Bold Marauder (673130) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981423)

Advise him to erase it, or at least encrypt it and transfer it to his home computer.

So, are you unaware that his downloading said porn in the first place is financially and morally supporting the sites he got it from, whom in turn finance people who sexually molest their children?

Or are you simply condoning child abuse?

Re:Excuse me, but WTF!!?!? (2, Funny)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981449)

Or are you simply condoning child abuse?
No, no, no, you misunderstand. What's he condoning is blackmail.

Mod parent up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981385)

This is exactly the answer.

What moron would call the cops first thing? You're like the stapler guy in Office Space right?

That's idiotic.

Re:How about go through proper channels? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981391)

Um, NO! If you uncover an obviously illegal activity and you do not report it (or ensure that it is reported through someone else) to the PROPER authorities (not your boss) within a very reasonable amount of time, like 24 hours, you could very well be considered an accessory. That IS the proper channel. But I'd love you to have you work for my company. You obviously have distorted views of reality that make you useful for corporations to use...

Re:How about go through proper channels? (5, Informative)

jeffkjo1 (663413) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981395)

Did you read the article? They did contact their manager. The police were only contacted later. And honestly, do you really think they got fired for reporting child pornography? Doing so would imply that the manager condoned the professor's action in downloading child porn. Please, there are obviously other things going on here that have yet to be reported. Read the articles before you post...

Re:How about go through proper channels? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981401)

Huh? For serious crimes like murder or child pornography the _first_ chain should be the law enforcement.

Your employer or your company shouldn't be above the law.

Re:How about go through proper channels? (1)

TrekkieGod (627867) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981416)

From article:

...opened a folder on a faulty PC last June only to discover thumbnail images of naked young girls in sexually explicit positions. The IT colleagues reported the finding to their manager, setting off a chain of events that resulted in the arrest of the professor who used the computer and, last month, his guilty plea.

They did go through the proper channels, ie, their manager. Read the article before posting people--and responding to the obvious reply, no, I'm not that new here :)

So we let the boss decide what's illegal? (1)

John3 (85454) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981417)

When you're at work you're acting as an agent of your employer. You should always go through your proper chain of command until the situation is resolved. The last step in the chain being law enforcement.

The corporate chain of command doesn't apply to criminal activity, only to company policy. If you witness criminal activity then it is your responsibility as a citizen to report it. We can get into discussions about how bad the crime needs to be, but if it's a crime and you feel like it should be reported then why go to the boss first?

Re:So we let the boss decide what's illegal? (1)

TrekkieGod (627867) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981462)

but if it's a crime and you feel like it should be reported then why go to the boss first?

Because it just might save the company a lot of embarrasment if the employee committing the crime is fired before he's arrested. Now, if after you report it to your boss nothing happens, you might feel ethically compelled to ask about why nothing has happened, and then, when you see that nothing will be done about it, you call the police.

Of course, that's not what happened in this article...they did follow the chain of command and were penalized anyway.

Re:How about go through proper channels? (4, Informative)

Otter (3800) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981418)

When Gross saw the thumbnail pictures, he consulted with Perry, who reported the incident to their supervisor, Margaret Perley, another Collegis employee on site at the school, according to the complaint. In a meeting on or about June 13, the suit continues, Perley told Perry and Gross that she had contacted New York City's district attorney's office about the incident. On June 20, the New York City police confiscated Samuels' PC. Samuels was arrested Aug. 14, and a subsequent search of his home turned up more child porn. Last month, Samuels pleaded guilty to 100 counts of "possessing a sexual performance by a child," a felony, and a few days later he resigned his tenured position at New York Law School. Sentencing is scheduled for June 23.

That does seem to be what they did in this case, and the empolyer insists they were commended for their actions and fired for completely unrelated reasons.

The whole thing seems fishy to me, but that's why we have courts -- to allow both sides to present their positions, instead of jumping to a conclusion based on what Information Week has to say. It's a shame that a ludicrous sexual harssment claim has to be the vehicle for justice, though.

Re:How about go through proper channels? (2, Insightful)

Mullen (14656) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981494)

When you're at work you're acting as an agent of your employer. You should always go through your proper chain of command until the situation is resolved. The last step in the chain being law enforcement.

Bullshit. You have a responsibility to society that goes beyond any contract you have with your employer. If you find out that someone is doing that is extremely harmful to society, you must turn them in. If you do not drawn a line on what is permissible and what is not, then anyone can do anything, including acts that are very harmful to children. You are simply just hiding behind a contract to neglect your duty as person in society.

You get fired for "embarrassing" the company? (4, Insightful)

Freston Youseff (628628) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981334)

SUE FOR PROFIT

I think you meant: (2, Funny)

dsb (52083) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981362)

1. Sue
2. ?
3. Profit

That's not right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981414)

Courtesy of our revolving door legal system, that is condensed nowadays to:

1. Sue
2. Profit

Nice try, though.

Don't call the cops. (0, Interesting)

MoTec (23112) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981336)

It's pretty stupid to call the cops first. The first thing you should do is tell your boss. Let the company handle it and call the police if they want to. Isn't this obvious?

Re:Don't call the cops. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981372)

>It's pretty stupid to call the cops first.

I had my vehicle broken into twice at a company parking lot. The security person in charge DID NOT call the cops. Had I realized that he would not call them, I would have called them first.

Now, tell me exactly how the scenario is different? Don't you have a duty and an obligation to call the police when you witness a crime?

Re:Don't call the cops. (1)

KingDaveRa (620784) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981381)

Depends on the boss though. Some places just hush these things up forever and nothing happens. I think if I got the push for doing this, I'd make one hell of a fuss about it.

Re:Don't call the cops. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981486)

>Some places just hush these things up forever
>and nothing happens.

In some cases, constructively hiding evidence of a crime can be a more serious crime than the one being covered up.

Re:Don't call the cops. (4, Insightful)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981387)

No, it's not obvious. If it's a serious felony that's taking place in your workplace, your boss may be involved. If he/she is involved, then there'll be a nice little cover up and the guilty parties continue with whatever they were doing under the corporate safety blanket.

If someone has child pornography on their work pc, they may have it on their home pc also. This isn't just about losing a job for that person, it's about a deep sickness they need help with. The last thing they need is a slap on the wrist from the boss and carte blanche.

I don't know what I'd do in this situation, but the cops would definitely be involved.

Re:Don't call the cops. (1)

MoTec (23112) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981451)

Well, I guess that's what makes the world such an exciting place - everyone is different.

I said that I wouldn't call the police first, not that I wouldn't call the police at all. I'd talk to my boss and continue up the chain of command untill I felt the issue was taken care of. If necessary I would involve the police but I do not believe that would be the best first step. At least, I'd be having a talk with my boss, then their boss - up to the heads of IT and HR then to those three-letter-job-title folks, if necessary.

not if the boss(es) are in on it r/o (1)

polished look 2 (662705) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981412)

Something similar happened to me and a co-worker but it wasn't due to porn on any computer it was due to a manager "purchasing" phony IT equipment in that the money came in for it but it was used for other purposes. The weird thing was that my co-worker went to someone high up in the organization and told them what was going on and they told him to shut up and play along. When the manager that was instigating the theft found out that my co-worker tried to blow the whistle on him, the manager and his friendly subordinates (people that were aware of what the manager was doing and supported it) treated him pretty badly and he sooned resigned.

Re:Don't call the cops. (1)

Tingler (56229) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981434)

Sooo..... Let's say that instead of finding child porn you find terrorist plans or information about a murder. Is that obvious? Please explain to me which federal crimes I should report to the police & which federal crimes I should tell my boss about. None of this is clear to me.

Re:Don't call the cops. (1)

brsmith4 (567390) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981453)

I think this all boils down to one question: will you put your morals above your paycheck? If you wont, then you will let it rest after your direct supervisor does nothing about it. If you do, you will go to your boss' boss. At that point, there are two outcomes: You get fired for circumventing your direct supervisor (that's a big no-no in the corporate world) or the boss' boss fires your boss and brings the cops in on the original culprit. Now, if the boss' boss does nothing, will you bring the cops in yourself? If all you care about is your paycheck (thats not necessarily a bad thing), then you wont. You will be the quiet guy in the corner cubicle. If you put your morals above your paycheck, your company and all of your supervisors will be on the evening news when you get home. You'll be laughing all the way to the bank as you cash in your last paycheck.

Only an idiot... (0, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981337)

Only an idiot would get all high and mighty, and call the police right away. He deserved to be fired.

Tell your boss and let the company deal with it. Don't embarrass yourself and your employer all in one go. Sheesh, this is worthy of a front page story?

Re:Only an idiot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981466)

Possession of child pornography is a serious criminal offence. How do you even know that the company will deal with it if you tell them? They may just cover it up and then fire you anyway and the situation will be worsened. Whereas if you go the police anonymously and prudently then the culprit gets busted and you stay in the clear.

Whenever I encounter misdoings (4, Insightful)

A Proud American (657806) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981341)

... I simply report them anonymously.

That way, the perpetrator gets punished, I am left out of the deliberations, and everyone's happy.

Just email the URL or IP address to the proper authorities (your boss, the police, etc.) from one of your anonymous email accounts and you're all set (use a proxy too).

Re:Whenever I encounter misdoings (1)

Enramot (613721) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981415)

so, you're an Anonymous Coward then.

Re:Whenever I encounter misdoings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981439)

No, he's just a proud American.

See, listen, do (1, Insightful)

DJ Rubbie (621940) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981342)

See No Evil, Listen No Evil, Say No Evil, and keep the job.

Actually, the companies who fire whistle blowers really do have something to hide, which also shows that they are untrustworthy with their business pratices.

Absolutely not. (2, Insightful)

I Am The Owl (531076) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981343)

If you discover that an employee has, say, anime on his machine, it is certainly not your business to go and report him. You are not the law, you have no moral authority, and you should therefore not be able to bring punishment down upon someone who has done you no wrong. Pure and simple.

I know I would be very displeased if I found one of our system administrators playing "computer god" with our proprietary information. If he can't be trusted to keep the privacy of a coworker, then who's to say that he can keep the privacy of the company's trade secrets? He would be outta here in no time.

Re:Absolutely not. (0)

Original AIDS Monkey (315494) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981371)

There's a difference between anime and child pornogrpahy. Admittedly, it's small. But there's a difference.

You fucking sellout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981386)

I remember the days when you were -1 and loving it. You've changed, man, it used to be about the trolling.

Re:You fucking sellout (0)

Original AIDS Monkey (315494) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981428)

Hey, it's not my fault people modded up a Dilhole link [slashdot.org] all the way to +2. I'm trying to get back to my home as quickly as possible.

Netcraft has confirmed: *BSD is dying

Yet another crippling bombshell hit the beleaguered *BSD community when recently IDC confirmed that *BSD accounts for less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of the latest Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as further exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.



You don't need to be a Kreskin [amazingkreskin.com] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood. FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.



All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it will be among OS hobbyist dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save *BSD at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.

*BSD is dead

blatantly off-topic post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981465)

He didn't change, trolling changed. Just like reagan and the democratic party.

Re:Absolutely not. (1)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981433)

Bad analogy. Anime is completely legal and ok in anyone's book. Child pornography, OTOH, is an instant felony. Possession or distribution of said pornography is a serious offense in this country.

Just remember: at work, you have no privacy. 99% of employees are tracked, watched, keylogged, logged, etc. Don't do anything at work your boss wouldn't like, period. If you're stupid enough to download porn at work, you deserve whatever happens when you get caught.

Re:Absolutely not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981436)

Since when possessing anime is illegal?

Re:Absolutely not. (1)

thebigmacd (545973) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981457)

Police are not the law either. They enforce the law. We as voting citizens have no moral authority? What's the point in democracy then? Furthermore, there is such thing as citizen's arrest. Even though there is citizen's arrest, you still say we can't even REPORT behaviour to those who have authority?

Well, DUH... (2, Informative)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981348)

An officer of a company is a representative of that company. While people are personally accountable for their actions on a criminal level, their actions are nonetheless that of the company, as well.

Remember, a "company" doesn't exist. It's just an idea held by a group of people. Think of these people as your friends, because even if you don't like them, they are. They help provide for your welfare.

Would you report your best friend's smoking weed? Would you report your father for voeyerism?

Report this matter to your boss, and document (in writing) that you did so. Having effectively wiped your hands of the matter, enjoy your job.

Re:Well, DUH... (1)

feepcreature (623518) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981447)

Remember, a "company" doesn't exist...

Actually in most countries a company does have a legal personality - that's how you can sue them when things go wrong (or lawyers get greedy). Or even if you get fired!

As to when you report a friend or colleague - if their actions cause extreme abuse to other people (especially children), that should be a less difficult decision.

Of course IANAL - which is why I can talk about ethics with a straight face :-)

What do you do? You do the RIGHT thing. (5, Insightful)

Bold Marauder (673130) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981353)

For each child in a single picture, how many more are hurt by it propagating along the internet and encouraging more abuse?

I think that there should be a law to protect whistleblowers, and perhaps some form of federal insurance that the can draw from in the event that they are retaliated against.

Whistleblowing, wether it is calling the cops on pedophiles in the workplace, or terrorists in your apartment building, is a critical tool of law enforcement. Sadly, too many privacy nuts would rather shelter pedos for the sake of being able to post anonymous crap on message boards...

Re:What do you do? You do the RIGHT thing. (1)

John3 (85454) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981452)

That's why corporations need to have a "whistle blower" policy. I'm on the board of an insurance company and we spent a lot of time making sure our policy was comprehensive and protected staff who came forward with evidence of wrongdoing. If your company does not have a policy in place, demand that they draft one ASAP.

Re:What do you do? You do the RIGHT thing. (1)

bj8rn (583532) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981469)

Whistleblowing, wether it is calling the cops on pedophiles in the workplace, or terrorists in your apartment building, is a critical tool of law enforcement.

Three words: In Soviet Russia...

Reason for Being Fired (2, Informative)

Snover (469130) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981355)

I'm not quite sure about this one. The story submitter says that these people were fired because they gave the company a bad light, but this wouldn't even be about the company, since they were being outsourced. It was a computer of a professor at New York Law School, not a computer of someone at Collegis.

He deserved to lose his job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981367)

He stepped wayout of line. A matter like that should be referred to either a superior, or internal security, who then handle contacting law enforcement. That man was a self-righteous fool, and deserved to lose his job.

Re:He deserved to lose his job (2, Informative)

Snover (469130) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981420)

They did first contact someone internal.

When Gross saw the thumbnail pictures, he consulted with Perry, who reported the incident to their supervisor, Margaret Perley, another Collegis employee on site at the school, according to the complaint. In a meeting on or about June 13, the suit continues, Perley told Perry and Gross that she had contacted New York City's district attorney's office about the incident. On June 20, the New York City police confiscated Samuels' PC.


It wasn't until AUGUST that these two employees actually went and talked to anyone directly:

In early August, Perry had taken matters into her own hands by going directly to the FBI. Perry says she took that action because it was hard to gauge how the case against Samuels was proceeding, or even if there was a case. Perley "told us the police detectives didn't have enough information," Perry says. (Through a Collegis spokesman, Perley expressed support for Huber's letter but otherwise declined comment.) The New York district attorney's office says the case against Samuels--approximately 10 weeks from the discovery of the images until his arrest--proceeded normally.


In any case, and complain if you like, but this is much more serious than having, say, some MP3s or something (which very arguably could be legal), since those aren't originating from the abuse of someone who will most likely become scarred for life.

Re:He deserved to lose his job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981463)

>He stepped wayout of line.

If someone is breaking in the building, or pulling out a rifle, do you go to internal security and up the chain of command, or do you call 911?

What if I work in a bookkeeping office and I have evidene of a major incidence of accounting fraud? Dummy up? Tell someone who I believe will not report the matter? How am I to be sure that I will not be considered negligent for failing to report the crime?

For exactly which crimes is it appropriate to report to the police, and for which is it appropriate to report to your manager, and who decides? What are the specific criteria? Is this a matter for the company to decide, or is it a matter of law?

Might it even be a crime to forbid someone to report what they witness to the police? I imagine there could be some pretty strong defense tactics in the face of such an incident.

When you insist that I not inform the law enforcement authorities of a crime I have witnessed, that might even be cause to include you as a defendant, as an accessory -- or even expose you under RICO, as a racketeering influence in an organization that is covering up a crime.

Re:He deserved to lose his job (1)

BenLev (533649) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981471)

I'm amazed at how many posters self-rightously assert that one shouldn't report felonies he encounters at work.

I understand not wanting IT guys to become the copyright police, but serious felonies are different. If you see a man rape a coworker in the janitor's closet, shouldn't you call the cops? The law may not require you to speak up, but morality does.

So the question is, where does child porn fall on the spectrum ranging from jaywalking to serial killing? I think child porn -- given that the market for new images directly leads to the exploitation of helpless kids -- is pretty far on the serious end of the scale. We're not talking about a bootlegged copy of "Matrix Reloaded" here.

As to those calling for whistleblower protection, such laws exists for many federal and state issues. Learn more here [whistleblowerlaws.com].

From what I can tell, a bunch of posters seem to believe that the "chain of command" and other coprorate culturisms should have trumped the basic humanity demonstrated by the plaintiffs in the case here. Maybe the law school would have covered up the professor's wrongdoing or incompetently allowed him to destroy the evidence before the police arrived. The whistleblowers prevented that and set an example.

Unlike other "think of the children" laws, those banning child porn really do protect actual kids from real abuse.

Hmm. (1)

Dthoma (593797) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981388)

Couldn't you just blow the whistle to the police anonymously a few weeks later? As long as you don't tell anyone else about it and leave a long time delay no one will realise that it was you (hopefully).

The company did the right thing. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981397)

While all the facts have not emerged, as an attorney who has dealt with similar cases I must say that the company took the correct action.

Employees who would expose the company to such liability must be terminated. The proper action for them to take would have been to simply delete the offending material, thereby eliminating the potential liability to the company and would avoid tarnishing the company's public image.

They did not do this. They instead took the evidence to management, which in effect forced management's hand. At that point, it was inevitable that the incident would become public.

Corporate assets must be protected, and these employees endangered corporate assets. In my legal opinion, termination was the right thing to do.

What should I do? (0, Offtopic)

sbillard (568017) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981398)

If you discover illegal goodies on a machine, what should you do about it?"
Or, What would you do?

wait for it...

Use both hands; of course!

*_rimshot_*

'tap-tap' - is this thing on?

2 things (1)

shione (666388) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981404)

ok to comment on that seriously, I'm not saying its right but perhaps it has to do with the loss of trust after someone has snitch on his/her own people, kinda like when somebody betrays their leader and joins the other side in a war or they're a double agent -- these people are never fully trusted again no matter what.

for the person that gets fired for whistle blowing, if they can prove with hard evidence that thats why they got fired they should be able to use the anti dicrimination act (or the equivalent in your country)..... and embarass the company again.

call the cops (2, Informative)

Ryan Stortz (598060) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981408)

Personally, if I found something as severe as child porn I'd definitly report him to the police. If I lose my job then I sue.

There should be a law againist punishing whisle blowers.

First responsibility of a good sysadmin (0, Offtopic)

Swampfox (5285) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981410)

Make good off-site backups and take them to your house. :)

Should read the other article too you know (1)

ScottGant (642590) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981421)

Don't jump to conclusions. Take a look at the other article in which Collegis responds with:

"Employment of the technicians ended due to issues completely unrelated to this isolated incident, which will become clear as the case progresses through the legal system. Claims made by the plaintiffs cannot be taken at face value and should not be trumpeted as fact via media when they are based solely on unsubstantiated allegations."

Yes, it sounds like they're covering their collective asses, but can't they cover their asses AND be telling the truth? We're so cynical now a-days that we always want to focus on the most negative aspects of things.

There is no spoon...

Not so simple (5, Insightful)

davmoo (63521) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981432)

I've already noted several posts here that say words to the effect of "report it to the boss" and "its not your problem to call the law".

Unfortunately, that is not always such a simple decision.

In some states, and I'm sure many more will follow, it is the law that, should you find evidence of child abuse or child porn, YOU are guilty of a crime if YOU do not report it immediately to authorities.

You may be an agent of the company, but you are also subject to the laws of the state you are working in.

Re:Not so simple (3, Interesting)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981480)

I believe you're right about being guilty for not reporting it.

In Illinois and some states, if the cops pull you and your friends over after a night of drinking, they give everybody breathalyzer tests. If the least drunk guy is driving, they're happy. But, if you're in the car, the driver is drunker than you, then you get a ticket. Same goes for everyone else in the car.

I know it's a stretch but it seems relevant to this thread for some vague reason. :)

Re:Not so simple (1)

Dr Reducto (665121) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981488)

If you do not report it, you are and ACCESORY AFTER THE FACT. You can be arrested and tried as if you did it yourself.

Not My Job (2, Flamebait)

Qrlx (258924) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981435)

If you're heading out into the cube farm to fix an end user's desktop, you ought to ignore everything that's not part of the problem.

Now, if the hard drive was literally full, and the reason is that there's gigabytes of kiddie porn and no room for a temp file, then you'd be justified mentioning something. I'd probably say something like "You should delete the Candyman directory, it's taking up too much room. Is it okay if I go ahead and delete that for you?"

Unless your organization has an acceptable use policy for the computers, and unless the employees are aware that personal files on their computers are going to be audited/double-clicked on by bored techies, and unless your job description specifically states that you are to monitor for unacceptable use, then you have no business snooping around. In my experience, 1/3 of the people never install stuff without approval, 1/3 of them install RealPlayer even if you tell them not to, and the other 1/3 install RealPlayer and everything else they can click on without even realizing it because they are clueless but thankfully the tech support guys are there to clean up the mess afterwards.

Look, employees have to sit in front of these screens eight hours a day. Is it really anyone's business WHAT or HOW they decide to use their computers, so long as they are getting the job done?

And what next, after you tell on the guy with kiddie porn? Bob has too many MP3s, Larry didn't wash his hands after using the bathroom, and Alice took an extra ten minutes on her lunch break. Nobody wants to work with a person like that. Just do your job, ignore the kiddie porn, and get on with your life. I would hate to be the director of IT, and have some techie ruin my week by coming up to me and telling me that some employee has kiddie porn on his computer. This was not a problem until some n00b techie started looking at stuff he shouldn't have and had to go blabbing his big mouth about it.

Firing might seem harsh, but if someone with access to all the data in the company can't exhibit some discretion, I think it's justifiable.

Of course, kiddie porn is sooo highly illegal in this country (rules of entrapment don't apply, etc.) that the firee probably can make a strong case that the only reason he was fired is because he alerted manegement to an endemic problem within the organization. That wouldn't get him his job back, but it would be a nice payback to get the U.S. Marshalls in their seizing hard drives and restoring from tape to look for any other kiddie porn on the company LAN.

The sick irony is (3, Funny)

vastabo (530415) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981440)

look at the bottom of the page at that quote thingy:
A child of five could understand this! Fetch me a child of five.

Or maybe it's not that funny.

Must be running out of headlines.... (1)

netwalkr (562377) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981443)

I would say escalate it to your boss then, allow them to take care of the issue appropriately. What a bummer to get fired over somebody's obsession with kiddy PRON.

fire code violations, license violations... (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981444)

I was severely reprimanded on two different subjects- one was over our complete and total lack of fire supression equipment in our server room. The building-wide system's alarm in the room didn't even work- and you couldn't hear the others outside because of the air handler. Extremely dangerous on so many counts. How did I get in trouble? Fire Marshall pointed at the server room and said "What's in there?" while I was headed that way. "Server room." "I want to go in there." "Okay."(what was I supposed to say? "Sorry, don't have the key to the door I was walking towards", even if I felt like lying?) That got me screamed at real fast, because the fire marshall hit the ceiling when he saw a complete and utter lack of fire supression. No sprinklers(water, gas, fog/foam, whatever. Nothing there. Why? Landlord had ripped out the half-dead system.) Nothing ever came of the FM's threats- I'm sure the landlord paid him off.

Second case was some hand-me-down backup software from our "main" office. It was, of course, licensed to specific Solaris system IDs, belonging to systems we couldn't have, for whatever reason. They wanted me to change the system IDs- defeating the whole licensing system(ie, against the license terms.) I refused, on two grounds- violated the licensing terms, and it was probably not possible/could damage the system's hardware, according to the stuff I had read on the sun manager's list.

Why couldn't they simply call up and ask to have the keys re-issued for new systems, which was 100%, completely allowed for in the terms of the license? They were $20,000+ in the hole with the vendor, the only company who could reissue the license keys.

Firing whistleblowers works.... (1)

Dr Reducto (665121) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981455)

Just ask Enron, Worldcom, the FBI, all branches of the military, and many others. They all agree that if you relay a problem to your superiors, the matter will be handled in a timely, ethical matter.

um... child pr0n != "goodies" michael (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981459)

you insensitive clod

copyright lawyers and child pornography... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981464)

who knew? makes sense to me:) i wonder what's on hillary rosen's computer...(she is, after all, writing the copyright laws for the 51st state)

Nothing at all (5, Insightful)

Eol1 (208982) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981473)

I work government network security for a living. Part of the ethics instilled in us (along with federal regulations governing the position) is the broad understanding that we are here to protect the security of the network. We are not the porn police or any other type of legal official.

We are legally bound NOT TO report anything even if discovered on a routine call, not our job. We are not legally authorized to invade your privacy. That is why they have policy with warrants. It is also a position I stand behind and advidly enforce on my more moral or do gooder juniors. Your users should trust you to do your job and FIX the computer / issue, not narc them out. Your job is NOT to enforce your morality or ideas of what the law is upon them.

If you want to be a narc join a legal body and put your computer skills to use helping them. If just want to narc on your coworker because they don't fit in your ideas of morality, I have no sympathy for you or anybody like you. Losing your job should be the least of your worries, you should be hung from a tree.

Everybody breaks the law including you. Do you really want to live in a society where the guy behind you on the freeway calls the police on you for doing 57 in a 55.

Mind your own business and do you job unless your job is to bust folk.

Easy (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981484)

Easy, I shopped the bastards.



I used to work on repairing printing machinery and one place I went to was publishing a child porn mag called 'Young and Free'. The machinery was repaired without comment and as I drove away I phoned the police on the cellphone.



Each of the guys working there got a prison sentence, and I hope they had a tough time.



Peter Jones


Ex AGFA engineer

Simple answer to that kiddy pr0n question. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#5981485)

Back it up and take the backup disks to your house for 'safekeeping' and 'quick retrieval'. *wink wink*

Aren't there laws protecting whistleblowers? (1)

edunbar93 (141167) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981492)

Although I would have to admit that going above the boss' head is a dumb move in this particular case, quite honestly if you know the company is doing something wrong - for instance if this guy didn't get fired for the child porn on his computer, or if the company as a whole is doing something illegal, like laundering money - if you don't blow the whistle, you are an accomplice under the law.

I seem to recall that people have been protected for reporting corporate crime before, and as such the company in question here may be in trouble for firing their sysadmin.

In South Carolina (2, Informative)

icewalker (462991) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981495)

I believe the SC Legislature recently passed a law [sc-lock.com] that requires an IT person to turn in another who may have Child Pornography on their computer. Not doing so would be illegal. For the company to fire the person afterwards would then open the company up to litigation. Basically, I'm between a rock and a rock! Time for a Career Change??

what should you do about it? (1)

Tom (822) | more than 9 years ago | (#5981497)

Very obviously, the first thing you should do is read the company security policy and find out whether your find conflicts with it. If it does, shut up or give an anonymous hint to the police.

I've written a security policy for a company. Data privacy and data security do sometimes conflict, and if the company doesn't have that problem sorted out in a written document, urge it to do so.
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