Disciplinary reports published by a news outlet reveal that FBI employees have a nasty habit of sending each other sexually explicit messages — from both personal as well as government-issued cellphones— forcing the agency to comment on the matter.
"The instances described are not unlike those that occur among employees of any other large agency or organization in the country," a spokesperson for the FBI Office of Public Affairs said in a statement to NBC News. "It is important to note that in an organization of more than 36,000 employees, these disciplinary incidents involve a fraction of one percent of FBI employees."
The incidents are listed as "misuse of government computer" and "unprofessional conduct" in a confidential quarterly newsletter sent to FBI employees in early January, which was obtained and published by CNN. "Employee used personal cell phone to send nude photographs of self to several other employees," one of the incident report excerpts describes. "In aggravation, employee's conduct created office gossip and negatively impacted office operations."
"Employee used government-issued BlackBerry to send sexually explicit messages to another employee," another incident report excerpt reads. "In aggravation, employee's conduct was repeated, intentional, and occurred during work hours."
According to the FBI spokesperson who spoke to NBC News, "the disciplinary reports cited in the media are [...] provided to employees in a transparent effort to educate our workforce about the FBI's standards of conduct and to aid employees in steering clear of ethical pitfalls and other violations."
In other words, the FBI is teaching by example, sharing actual incidents, along with the penalties for the employees who were caught. (In case you're wondering, the employee who used his or her personal phone to send nude photos to co-workers received a 10-day suspension. The one who used his or her government-issued BlackBerry to sext a colleague received a five-day suspension.)
"We're hoping [that] getting the message out in the quarterlies is going to teach people, as well as their supervisors ... you can't do this stuff," FBI assistant director Candice Will told CNN. "When you are given an FBI BlackBerry, it's for official use. It's not to text the woman in another office who you found attractive or to send a picture of yourself in a state of undress. That is not why we provide you an FBI BlackBerry."
Will's concerns aren't the first shared about inappropriate messages being sent at work, of course. In mid-2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a Southern California case involving work-issued devices and some sexy text messages.
The court, at that time ruled that employees should assume that their bosses can (and will) monitor communications on their company devices — meaning that those sending nude photos and explicit messages are bound to get busted. Additionally, rulings have been made by the House of Representatives to ban access to porn on government-issued computers.
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