Saturday, February 6, 1999 Published at 02:51 GMT
Voyeurs learn 'netiquette' the hard way
Many users are caught out by not knowing computer basics
By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall
As more people in the UK are connected to the Internet, the media has been feasting on stories about prominent people exposed for visiting sites they should have steered clear of.
Subtract the highly organised child pornographers from the sum total and you are left, by and large, with smut seekers spotted because they were so ignorant about computers and the Net they never realised they might be caught.
Workers in Parliament, local councillors, public officials, teachers and doctors have all been sacked or suspended for storing or viewing porn.
But there is more than an element of sensationalism in the reports, and the case of the Plymouth councillor sacked from positions of responsibility for looking at pictures of "busty women" suggests double standards may be operating.
While his fellow Conservative councillors condemned Albert Fry for "totally unacceptable" conduct, council officials said he had been "perfectly innocent" and his behaviour "reasonable for a new Internet user".
The type of pictures he had been viewing was apparently of the sort to be seen every day on page three of the popular tabloid newspapers.
He was discovered when a technician saw the material while carrying out routine maintenance on the computer.
This all fits as one of the standard modes of discovery of porn seekers unaware of the trail they are leaving. A fuller list:
More and more organisations are introducing some kind of filtering software, originally intended for children, to prevent their grown-up employees falling to the temptation to visit dubious sites. Blocking access in the first place is seen as the best way to reduce the number of cyberporn scandals.