Court: SEC porn watchers' names a secret

Dec. 9, 2010 at 8:10 PM
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DENVER, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The names of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission employees who watched pornography online while on the job will remain secret, a U.S. judge ruled.

The privacy of the 24 employees and seven SEC contractors, found to have watched pornography using agency computers from 2005 through this year, is more important than the public's right to know, U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello wrote.

"The court concludes that the public interest in the individuals' names is negligible, at best," she wrote. "The SEC has already disclosed information sufficient to inform the public about the SEC's operations and activities related to the misconduct."

The people involved in the scandal were either fired or disciplined, The Denver Post reported.

Denver lawyer Kevin D. Evans had wanted the public to know who was responsible and what positions they held within the agency.

He filed suit after the SEC denied his U.S. Freedom of Information Act request for the names, citing privacy concerns.

The SEC later disclosed the disciplines imposed and what positions the employees held.

"Had the public disclosure been a relatively innocuous report that SEC employees had been found spending hours surfing the Internet, the implicated privacy interest might weigh less," Arguello wrote.

"But that is not the case," her opinion said. "Rather, the public was informed that employees were found to have spent hours at work viewing sexually explicit Web sites. This reflects on the employees' sexual needs and/or desires and, in at least one instance, an admitted longstanding addiction to Internet pornography."

Evans told the Post he was surprised by the court's ruling but hadn't decided if he would appeal.

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