New CIO Magazine Poll Reveals Fireable Offenses For Employee Internet Misuse

PHOENIX, AZ — OCTOBER 18, 2000 — A new CIO KnowPulse(SM) poll, conducted by IDG's CIO magazine, shows chief information officers (CIOs), CEOs and other business leaders will not tolerate employees' Internet misuse. In the poll of 210 executives, 83% say their company fires employees for sending pornography via the Internet, 82% for sexual harassment via Internet, 77% for compromising trade secrets via the Internet, 18% for checking stock or sports scores online and 13% for buying concert tickets online. Of this same group, 43% say employees HAVE ALREADY been fired for sending pornography, 43% for sexual harassment, 18% for compromising trade secrets, 1% for checking stock or sports scores and 2% for buying concert tickets.


According to Abbie Lundberg, Editor in Chief, CIO magazine, "Companies have to cover themselves legally and competitively, regardless of the medium. Pornography, sexual harassment and revealing competitive intelligence are big stakes issues. The personal use of company computers, on the other hand, is more of a productivity and a resource issue. So while companies are watching, not many people are firing over it."

The poll was deployed October 16, 2000, at a CIO Perspectives conference in Phoenix, AZ. Respondents represent the most elite of the "wired worker" community, a demographic that many news sources (including Newsweek magazine, August 28, 2000) have labeled Election 2000 "swing voters." However, poll results show these "swing-vote-leaders" are just as divided in their decisions as the rest of the nation: Forty-one percent (41%) believe the Gore/Lieberman ticket is best suited to lead in the new economy (up from 28% in August 2000) vs. 38% selecting the Bush/Cheney ticket (down from 46% in August 2000). Yet, when asked for whom they would vote in the upcoming Presidential election, 48% choose Bush/Cheney while only 37% choose Gore/Lieberman. When asked why the candidates aren't spending more time talking about technology issues, 62% of tech executives say the candidates don't think voters see technology issues as important.

In other government news, CIOs are shying away from taking full responsibility for protecting the nation's infrastructure. Richard Clarke, White House National Coordinator for Security and Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism, recently told CIOs and CEOs at an Internet policy forum** that the responsibility to defend the United States' information infrastructure lies with the private sector. ("Corporate America owns and operates our information infrastructure … the work to defend our information systems must be done in the private sector.") However, poll results indicate that nearly one in ten CIOs (9%) still believe the government is primarily responsible for defending the nation's systems, with the majority of respondents (69%) saying the responsibility should be equally split between the U.S. government and the private sector. Only 20% agree with Clarke that the private sector is primarily responsible.

CIOs on Putting Personal Information Online:

An overwhelming 96% of executives have e-shopped using their personal credit card number, with only 2% saying they are too apprehensive to put personal information on the Internet. In spite of this confidence and comfort level, significantly fewer conduct personal banking transactions online (54%) or are comfortable with having medical records stored on a site stating it has a secure server (55%). Lundberg theorizes, "Consumers have recourse for fraudulent credit card charges but understanding the limits of today's security, many CIOs are loathe to expose their personal savings of medical histories online."

CIOs on Cell Phone Bans and Wireless Technology:

The majority of respondents (61%) oppose a national ban on cell phone use while driving, but 79% support allowing only "hands-free" cell phones while driving. (Note: Legislators in Massachusetts are currently considering a statewide ban on cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle.) On the whole, the majority (83%) say mobile technology advances (e.g., PDAs, cell phones, remote telecom, etc.) are improving the quality of their lives. And despite the risks that wireless data communications pose to corporate information assets, 81% assert that the convenience and efficiency is well worth the risk.

CIOs on an Internet Depression:

Given the current technology stock decline and increasing number of dotcom company failures, two in five respondents (42%) say the U.S. economy is now or will soon be experiencing an Internet-related depression. One in five (19%) say it's happening now, 15% predict it will happen within six to twelve months and 7% say it will happen in more than twelve months. A less-skeptical 47% say it's not happening now and will not happen, with 11% saying they're unsure. According to Joe Levy, founder of CIO magazine and CEO of CXO Media Inc., "CIOs may not be stockbrokers, but they do know where tech dollars are being spent and thus have a good handle on industry trends … it does not bode well for the Internet industry that nearly half of CIOs are predicting an Internet depression."

Poll Results:

1) Are mobile technology advances — in the way of PDAs, cell phones, remote telecommuting, etc. — improving your quality of life?

83% Yes

5% No, it's ruining the quality of my life

5% No, it hasn't affected the quality of my life

7% Don't know/unsure

2) Do you think cyber-ethics should be part of K-12 education?*

85% Yes

6% No

10% Don't know/unsure

3) Would you support a national ban on cell phone use while driving?

30% Yes

61% No

9% Don't know/unsure

4) If not, would you support allowing only "hands-free" cell phones while driving?

79% Yes

17% No

4% Don't know/unsure

5) For which of the following offenses has an employee at your company been fired (per

your company's personal Internet usage policy)?

a) Checking stock or sports scores:

1% Yes, someone's been fired

17% No, no one's been fired, but this is a fireable offense

68% No, this is not a fireable offense

14% Don't know/unsure

b) Sending pornography:

43% Yes, someone's been fired

40% No, no one's been fired, but this is a fireable offense

2% No, this is not a fireable offense

15% Don't know/unsure

c) Sexual harassment:

43% Yes, someone's been fired

39% No, no one's been fired, but this is a fireable offense

2% No, this is not a fireable offense