Civil servants rapped for online abuse

Civil servants in Northern Ireland could face solicitors for libel charges if they do not stop posting offensive comments on Wikipedia, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Warnings have been have been sent to all the Northern Ireland departments after the newspaper discovered that computers registered to Northern Ireland's civil service had been used to post 1,500 items on the online encyclopaedia, including libellous remarks.

Departmental security officers were ordered by the Central Personnel Group to email warnings that departments would co-operate with any prosecutions of individuals who were found to have been involved.

"Users should also note that they may be personally liable to prosecution and open to claims for damage should their actions be found to be in breach of the law," an email to the Department of Finance and Personnel read. It added that there will be an investigation, which could see certain employees sacked.

Civil servants are allowed to use Wikipedia and most of the posts were inoffensive but employees were told they "might be monitored and should have no expectation of privacy whether use is for the conduct of official business or for personal use".

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