Civil servant gets the chop over knockers search

An Australian public servant has been fired after it transpired he had been searching for pictures of women in the altogether, at home and in his own time but using a government-owned laptop.

The man, who had worked in the Commonwealth Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism for 25 years, had a laptop supplied for work purposes but which he regularly took home and used for personal work on his self-funded broadband connection.

Unbeknownst to the unfortunate civil servant, however, his employers had set up a spyware app - Spector360 - which was configured to take snapshots of Internet activity and capture typed keywords. One such keyword, it appears, was 'knockers.'

Looking for a bit of executive relief after a hard day dealing with resources, energy, and tourists, the man appears to have searched for images of ladies lacking in clothing. Despite clearing his cache and browsing history following the conclusion of his activities, the Spector360 package was keen to tell all to management - resulting in the man's dismissal.

Despite arguing in the Federal Court in Canberra that the use of Spector360 to monitor his activity during his off time was a gross breach of privacy, the Department has stood firm on the man's sacking.

Attempts to pass the searches off as 'accidental' and 'for research purposes' in the Court failed, and the case against the man has been upheld and the dismissal found just.

Justice Nye Perram, presiding over the case, is quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as stating in summary: "It was not his laptop and its owner had asked him not to use it to view pornography.

"[However], some might think that the resources of the Commonwealth could be much better utilised on activities apart from the zealous pursuit [of a staff member] over something he did in his own home which was not against the law," Justice Perram went on to warn.

The case opens questions, both in Australia and abroad, about the monitoring of company-owned yet 'personal' equipment and the use thereof for non-professional purposes - naked-lady-related or not.