How Big Is the SEC's Porn Problem?

In February 2010, about 28 percent of people who used a work computer to access the Internet visited an adult site, according to The Nielsen Company. The average visit from a work computer was about 13 minutes and the average work visitor spent one hour and 38 minutes on adult sites during the entire month of February, the research firm told ABCNews.com.

"It's a problem across the board," said Nancy Flynn, founder and executive director of The ePolicy Institute, an organization that helps companies reduce their electronic risk. "There have been countless stories not only in financial services but with government agencies, corporations, nonprofits. You name the type of business and industry and there have been cases of employees spending time viewing pornography."

As businesses realize that electronic pornography and sexually-explicit content open them up to or exacerbate sexual harassment or discrimination claims, she said, they've increasingly adopted monitoring and blocking technology.

How Effective Is Web Site Blocking Tech?

Flynn said ePolicy and the American Management Association frequently partner on workplace surveys and between 2001 and 2007 saw a 27 percent increase in the number of companies that use Web site blocking technology.

But some of those familiar with the technology said that bypassing it can be child's play.

"As soon as a kid is old enough to hook up to the Internet, [he] can figure out how to do it," said Michael Leahy, a recovering sex addict and author of "Porn@ Work: Exposing the Office's #1 Addiction."

Some employees need only change browser settings to access porn sites, he said, while others can use Internet anonymizers that mask a user's IP address.

HR Expert: Regulating Online Behavior Is 'Balancing Act'

Leahy added that security programs can vary between devices, so that while a desktop computer may block inappropriate Web sites, a business-issued laptop, BlackBerry or iPhone may not. In other cases, he said, people could be using e-mail to transmit and receive porn they might have created.

"The bottom line is there is absolutely no 100 percent fail-safe technology to keep people from getting to this material," he said.

When he talks to companies and organizations about how to address the problem, he said, he emphasizes accountability systems that let employees know they are being monitored and issuing regular reports to all interested parties.

Knowing that superiors and others will see a detailed list of their Internet visits can help keep employees clean, he said. (Leahy said his wife even receives regular reports of every Web site he visits.)

"The SEC, it's a high-pressure workplace," he said. "The big question I'd like to ask is: What is the accountability around there?"

Doug Dureau, a technology and human resources panelist for the Society for Human Resource Management, said that regulating Internet behavior in the workplace is "a balancing act."

"There are so many Web sites out there, and if you lock it down too tight people aren't able to go to any Web site," he said.

For example, in the interest of blocking porn, some companies might inadvertently rope off sites on breast cancer or other health-related topics.

Risque Web Sites Often Security Threats

But some say the stakes in the public sector are different from those in the private sector.

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