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Generic image Brett Wortman

Worker used masking software to hide browsing

A WORKER sacked for using masking software to browse non-work related websites on a restricted Defence network has failed in a bid to sue the Commonwealth for defamation.

The northern New South Wales Defence employee was fired for using an "anonymiser" - a tool meant to make internet activity untraceable - to visit an average of 1822 websites a day over four months, multiple visits to single sites included.

His bosses discovered the deception in 2012 but were unable to learn what websites he had visited.

Nonetheless, it was supposed to be a secure Defence network with sensitive information kept confidential for reasons of national security.

In terminating the man's employment, his bosses accused him of deceptive and dishonest conduct.

"It appears to me that you utilised your IT capabilities to attempt to mask your internet activities and 'cover your tracks'," the termination letter said.

"I am unable to view your actions in this matter with anything other than the highest level of concern.

"This is especially due to what the user of 'anonymiser' sites could do (upload classified Defence information, access high level pornographic material etc) and not necessarily what the user did do.

"The fact remains that regardless of what you may have been doing whilst utilising the anonymisers, accessing such tools is forbidden and will not be tolerated."

The employee wrote to the Department of Defence in 2014 seeking $1.7 million in damages.

He then went to the NSW Supreme Court to argue his employers had defamed him by, among other things, portraying him as "a traitor and a spy" to other employees.

Justice Christine Adamson found the Commonwealth had not defamed the man, and even if they had, he took too long to file his proceedings and they fell outside the limitation period.

Unless an application for a different order is made, the man will be forced to pay the Commonwealth's legal costs. -ARM NEWSDESK



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