Study: Watching Porn at Work is 'Extremely Common'

Oct 9, 2014 2:00 PM PST

WASHINGTON — Recent months have seen an eruption of several scandals involving government officials watching porn at work, much to the chagrin of the American moral psyche.

While some indignation may be appropriate — the special agent at the Environmental Protection Agency who admitted to watching 2-6 hours of porn at work a day for almost years made $120,000 in the name of saving the environment — most other cases have been less offensive.

But this behavior may be more common than the steeply moral-minded imagine. According to a 2010 Nielsen survey, 29 percent of U.S. employees have looked at porn at work at least once, with sessions averaging about 13 minutes. Last time we checked, the Internet has not lost in popularity or pervasiveness since 2010.

Nancy Flynn, who founded management training company ePolicy Institute, told Bloomberg Businessweek the same story.

“It might surprise you, but this sort of stuff is extremely common — all kinds of companies.”

She described an extreme case, “I was a witness in one class-action case against a publicly traded international company where pornography was so pervasive that a senior executive had hired an assistant whose sole job was to file his porn.” The suit ended in a settlement.

Pulling the everyman card in this case hasn’t dissuaded public outrage and legislative intervention. Mark Meadows, a Republican Representative for North Carolina, has introduced a bill that would make it illegal for federal employees to surf porn on the job. Offenders would face write-ups or termination, expediting the slow administrative process that dominates the public sector.

“Hopefully, the bill won’t be necessary,” Meadows said. “We’re trying to get agencies to institute their own zero-tolerance policies.”

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