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U.K. fires 16 workers for indecent downloads

More than 220 government workers have been disciplined--including 16 who were fired--for putting pornography on their computers.

More than 220 government workers have been disciplined--including 16 who were fired--for downloading pornography onto their computers at the United Kingdom's Department of Work and Pensions.

According to reports, one person has been prosecuted in relation to the offenses, which included the downloading of pornographic images of child abuse onto department computers.

The sweeping disciplinary action is the result of a lengthy investigation into the improper use of the Internet and e-mail within the vast government department, which employs 140,000.

A department representative told Silicon.com that the agency regularly scans its systems to detect inappropriate materials on its network and said that when any is discovered, "disciplinary action will be taken and that can lead to a criminal prosecution."

The representative confirmed that 16 department workers have been fired for "gross misconduct" that contravened the department's Internet and e-mail usage policy.

The U.K.-based Sun newspaper asserts that more than 2 million pages of pornographic content were downloaded by staff within the department.

Will Sturgeon of Silicon.com reported from London.