UK's Government Computers Used To Access Porn More Than 300,000 Times In The Last 14 Months

from the let-he-who-is-without-sin...-oh,-I-guess-I-don't-see-anyone-like-that-here.. dept

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is so busy attempting to stomp out internet porn that he's completely overlooked his own backyard. And this metaphoric backyard now more closely resembles an unmarried uncle's closet, thanks Cameron's inattention, at least according to figures obtained by the Huffington Post.

Following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the Huffington Post UK, the House of Commons authorities acknowledged that users of the Parliamentary Network servers, including both MPs and their staff, have repeatedly attempted to access websites classed on Parliament's network as pornographic between May 2012 and July 2013.

According to the official figures, the number of attempts to access pornographic websites via the Parliamentary network peaked for 2012 at 114,844 last November and at 55,552 in April for 2013.
All told, there were more than 300,000 access attempts in the last 14 months. There are some very strange fluctuations in month-to-month activity (only 15 access attempts in February?), but the overall picture is one that shows MPs (and their staff) aren't too much different from the general public in terms of using the internet for its original purpose: porn.

And now that the news is public, an official (but anonymous) spokewoman is coming up with the same sort of almost-plausible excuses that John Q. Public would deploy when caught "accessing" porn by his significant other.
A House of Commons spokeswoman said the statistics do not prove a user "intended" to access a pornographic website as "a user may access a site that contains optional or automatic links to others, or other "pop-up" arrangements, which are recorded as requests."
"Pop-up arrangement," eh? Sounds pretty dirty to me. Granted, I run with Adblock most of the time (exceptions for sites I like/trust/visit frequently), but in my limited experience, most "optional or automatic links" to other porn sites are served by… other porn sites. Sure, there are several sketchier sites that dabble in SEO trickery and "referral links" to porn and porn-ish sites, but by and large, it's pretty easy to surf the web without being served porn pop-ups and referral links, especially if you're using a government computer where you know your internet history is subject to scrutiny.

But if you don't buy that excuse, here's another.
"We are not going to restrict Parliamentarians' ability to carry out research," the spokeswoman added.
Ah. Research. We all have our own euphemisms for suckerpunching the clownfish but "research" doesn't rank too high on the list. This one doesn't fly at home either. "Babe, I was just researching the effects of surreptitious porn viewing on the average relationship... [longish pause while s.o.'s angry glare reaches full intensity] ... I'll just put you down under the 'Negative' column."

Also left unsatisfied by this unnamed spokeswoman is how strict the government's porn filters are, at least in comparison to those being foisted upon the public. No details were forthcoming due to "ICT security."

Maybe Cameron should do a quick, informal (and very anonymous) survey of his fellow politicians to see if they still agree with installing porn filters at the ISP level. It looks like no one on the "inside" is in a hurry to give up their "access" to porn. It also indicates that "accessing" porn is something even normal, trustworthy* people like elected officials do. And surely their "research" and "access" activities didn't harm "the children," did they?

*["Normal and trustworthy" in the sense that other elected officials would consider their peers to be normal and trustworthy -- because they consider themselves to be normal and trustworthy.]

This whole thing is more than simple irony or an embarrassing waste of taxpayer funds. It's another indication that porn is ubiquitous and clearly acceptable to a much larger demographic than Cameron is willing to admit.

This sort of thing happens in the US as well and as taxpayers we have every right to complain about public servants eyeballing porn on our dime. But here we don't have the government pushing mandatory porn filters on ISPs and, outside of a few representatives who periodically attempt to push their version of a "family-friendly" everything on us, there's no cohesive drive to stomp out adult entertainment.

There are lessons to be learned here (many people, even normal, non-perverts "access" porn without harming themselves, others or "the children," filtering and firewalls don't work nearly as well as those pushing them believe they do), but I'm fairly sure Cameron will spin this news as an argument for his agenda.

Filed Under: david cameron, filters, porn, uk


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  1. icon
    MonkeyFracasJr (profile), 5 Sep 2013 @ 6:16am

    300k in 14months

    pfft ... amateurs.

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