Impacts: Business

Children and families are not the only ones being harmed by Internet pornography. Businesses are suffering from the effects of Internet pornography as well.

Both big and small companies are feeling the economic, social and operational impacts from a largely unaccountable porn industry. The endless availability of and unlimited access to pornographic content over the Internet has created unique problems for businesses, amounting to nothing less than a Porn Tax:

Increased Cost of Doing Business

Businesses are already burdened with many unnecessary expenses. The unrestricted and unregulated nature of Internet pornography simply adds another financial burden, draining companies of precious resources.

Internet pornography in the workplace forces companies to purchase, deploy and manage a variety of firewalls and other filtering technologies to keep pornography out of the business environment. This effort is both timely and expensive, costing, larger companies can spend tens of thousands of dollars a year or more.

Furthermore, when employees view Internet pornography in the workplace, they use-up company resources, such as bandwidth and computing cycles, requiring a company to purchase more bandwidth and additional computers. In some cases, it can even force a company to hire additional employees to get a project completed that has been slowed-down due to excessive Internet pornography use.

And when a company is pulled into a lawsuit as a result of Internet pornography, the costs to hire attorneys and payout settlements can be extremely expensive.

Lost Productivity

One of the more obvious side effects of Internet pornography in the workplace is lost productivity, which includes both employees surfing porn during work hours and the consumption of network resources that reduce the efficiency of other employees.

A Websense study reported that 70 percent of all internet porn traffic occurs during the 9-to-5 workday. How much money is Internet pornography in the workplace costing businesses, communities, states, and countries? The estimates are in the billions of dollars.

Lost Human Capital (Terminated Employees)

One of the more severe and damaging consequences of Internet pornography in the workplace is the loss of employees as a result of disciplinary actions that result in termination. The effect to a business when a key employee is fired for viewing Internet pornography at work can be devastating not only to productivity, but to a company's overall moral as well.

Many companies heavily invest in the education and training of their employees, all of which is lost when they are forced to terminate the employment.

According to Delta Consulting, 50% of the Fortune 500 companies have dealt with at least one incident related to computer porn in the workplace over the past 12 months. Offenders were fired in 44 percent of the cases or being disciplined in a further 41 percent of the instances. 2

Disruptive Work Environments

When a company is forced to terminate an employee for viewing Internet pornography, filling the void left by the terminated employee can prove to be difficult. The loss of a key employee can have a long-lasting effect on a company and even send smaller companies into tail-spins from which they can never recover.

In extreme cases, disgruntled employees who have been fired for viewing Internet pornography can seek out retribution against those who they believe have destroyed their lives.

Lastly, the constant need to re-image computer systems, to change spammed email addresses, and to use other technologies to keep the work environment clean disrupts employees and their day-to-day activities as they are temporarily unable to work.

Increased Stress and Anxiety

For companies and the individuals that must deal with employees who have violated proper use policies, there is an increased level of stress and anxiety. Hard decision must be made, possibly between exposing one's business to sexual harassment lawsuits and firing a key employee who have been openly viewing Internet pornography in the workplace.

Furthermore, companies are forced to expose other employees to Internet pornography to confirm that a violation has in fact occurred, exposing the employees to a highly addictive substance.

It is a no win situation.

Legal Liabilities

Companies that do not deploy expensive and resource-draining filtering solutions, in an attempt to keep Internet pornography out of the workplace, expose themselves to lawsuits, as a result of hostile-work-environment, sexual-harassment, sexual-assault, work-related-harm and Sarbanes-Oxley claims.

The money lost from these types of lawsuits is simply wasted funds. And it is especially unfortunate when you consider that the filtering solutions deployed cannot guarantee a clean environment; therefore, businesses are always exposed to these liabilities.

Brand/Reputation Harmed

When a business is forces to terminate one or more employees for viewing Internet pornography becomes public knowledge, it can be a poor reflection on the company. Not that the company is terminating employees for viewing Internet pornography, but that the employees are viewing pornography when they should be working.

The water-cooler jokes and gossip can do real harm to a company's brand and reputation and result in lost revenue and opportunities.

Lost Opportunities

Lastly, the culmination of all the effects of Internet pornography in the workplace is the loss of opportunity. While company executives are distracted dealing with Internet pornography issues; when company resources are drained to deal with Internet pornography in the workplace; when employees are wasting time viewing Internet pornography instead of working, companies miss sales opportunities, miss innovations, miss business meetings, miss windows of development and much more!

The bottom line is Internet pornography is bad for business unless of course, you are a pornographer.

1. From http://www.websense.com/products/resources/wp/hr_wp.pdf - September, 2003.
2. http://www.pcwelt.de/news/englishnews/114230/, Delta Consulting, Atlanta, Georgia, July 28, 2006

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