Wednesday 22 October 2014

Hard-core porn accessed at HSE clinic for addicts on computer

Terence Cosgrave

Published 13/07/2014 | 02:30

Hardcore porn was accessed at a HSE clinic for adults
Hardcore porn was accessed at a HSE clinic for adults

the Health Service Executive (HSE) launched an investigation after it emerged a computer at a clinic for addicts was being used to access hard-core pornography.

However, the probe was found to be "inadequate on a number of levels" and failed to discover who was accessing the pornography, internal documents obtained by the Sunday Independent reveal.

The report relates to several incidents in 2007 when staff complained to HSE management that pornographic images were being accessed on a computer at a clinic for addiction services on Baggot Street in Dublin.

It is a requirement of HSE policy that every computer that contains sensitive data be password protected, and that each user can be identified by their password. But this was not done in this case and sensitive data - including the results of HIV tests - were available to anyone in the building without the use of a password.

In this particular incident, several individuals complained to their manager that sick pornographic pictures - including graphic images of rape - were 'popping up' on computers in the clinic and were being generated by someone in the office.

However, it was not possible to determine who was the culprit because the computer being used did not require a password for access.

Staff subsequently complained that they were all "under a shadow" because 
of the incident and demanded a full investigation into it.

However, the investigation did not get under way for another full year, by which time the computer's data base had been erased and no evidence could be found against the person who was accessing the pornography.

The HSE admitted that "adequate records were not kept of the transport and delivery of the computer for examination to either the gardai or the ICT department and no written reports of any examination exist".

Staff at the clinic say the failure of the investigation to find the guilty party has pointed the finger of suspicion at everyone working at the clinic.

The HSE responded in writing to staff saying: "The seriousness of the issues arising, and the time lag between initial establishment of preliminary facts and the determination of an inconclusive result, may have had a consequence for potential reputational damage and personal stress and anxiety to relevant staff." It admitted "even a suspicion of inappropriate sexual behaviour can potentially damage an employee's reputation".

Several doctors working in the area of addiction also warned the leaking of patients' sensitive information, such as HIV test results, could do enormous damage.

One doctor told the 
Sunday Independent: "Having this information available to anyone who sits down at a computer is the equivalent of leaving the vault of a bank open, but with potentially much more serious consequences."

Sunday Independent

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