from the nice-excuse-you-have-there dept
We talk about porn filters occasionally here at Techdirt. Usually those discussions revolve around how useless and easily circumvented those filters are, even as the more clueless in government insist that we need more of this non-filtering filtering. This is not one of those stories. Instead, it is the story of one of the most tone-deaf individuals with a penchant for excuse-making I've ever come across.
We start with Gizmodo, a website that used to be owned by Gawker Media until a rich guy decided to show America exactly what a rich guy with a lot of money could do and had Gawker shut down, presumably then diving into a pile of gold coins and rubbing hundred dollar bills on his nipples. Gizmodo recently filed an FOIA request to get at documents involving the misuse of computer equipment with the Department of Homeland Security. The site was hoping to see if there were any cases of overreach and abuse of technology by the department. Instead, it uncovered four cases of people watching porn, including one really special case involving a border patrol agent that simply would not stop looking at porn while on the job.
According to the report obtained by Gizmodo, this particular case, where names have been redacted to protect the privacy of the agent, involves thousands of attempts to access porn on government computers in 2015.
The government says the unnamed agent tried to access porn 644 times in just a two-day span in July of 2015. The DHS internet software filters denied him access 467 times during those two days. Some of the porn was accessed simply because it was hosted on sites that weren’t recognized as exclusively for porn, like Flickr and Tumblr.
644 instances of watching porn while at work is the kind of dedication one likes to see out of an employee actually doing his or her job. That kind of relentless drive to jacking it while on the clock, however, isn't generally smiled upon. An investigation was conducted, which included an interview with the man caught loving himself. The agent had an excuse, however, and it's glorious.
He said that he knew he shouldn’t have been accessing porn at work, but that part of the blame was really with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office for not having “adequate web filters.”
Just drink that in for a moment. A border agent, part of an organization that is essentially a filter for those traveling across our borders, has said that part of the blame for his constant porn-viewing rests with the fact that the internet filter used didn't do a good enough job blocking his attempts to look at pornographic material. One immediately wonders if this excuse might be ported to the analog world of illegal immigration. Should an illegal immigrant caught by INS be able to simply shrug and say the blame for his or her illegal entry is really on the CBP for not stopping them? One might even imagine a caught illegal immigrant suggesting that CBP agents clearly didn't mind their entry if they spent so much time watching porn rather than, you know, catching those attempting to illegally cross the border. After all, if the filter isn't catching them, let's just blame that, right?
Are porn filters easily circumvented? Yes. Is that to blame for a CBP agent trying to find porn at work at a rate of near Olympic proportions? Mmm, no.