State Employees Face Large Fine for Viewing Porn at Work

Steve Javors
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A bill that seeks to impose a large fine for employees accessing adult content on state computers has been unanimously approved by the California State Assembly. Under the terms of the bill, violators could be fined up to $1,000.

Proposed by Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, R-Cathedral City, AB 546, “Would make it unlawful for any elected state or local officer, including any state or local appointee, employee, or consultant, to knowingly use state-owned or state-leased computer to access, view, download, or otherwise obtain obscene matter, as defined, except for specific purposes.”

The bill does not penalize employees for accessing adult material in conjunction with a legitimate police investigation. Other exceptions to the bill include scientific, medical, academic and legislative research. The bill also doesn’t apply to University of California employees until university regents make it applicable.

Since AB 546 passed the Assembly 67-0, the next step for the bill is to be signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. While the governor has not commented on the bill publicly or taken a formal position, he is expected to approve it.

If the bill reaches his office this week, Schwarzenegger will have 12 days to sign or veto it. If it gets to his desk next week, he’ll have 30 days.

Calls to the assemblywomen’s and governor’s press offices were not immediately returned.

The issue of viewing obscene material on state time was first introduced to Garcia by the California Family Alliance, a Christian-based lobbying group based in Sacramento.

Under the bill’s language, managers who suspect a state worker of viewing obscene material would first investigate the case and then turn evidence of likely offenses over to the state Attorney General or district attorneys for prosecution.