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FOI Request Reveals UK Houses of Parliament Workers' Passion For Adult Content

Soulskill posted 1 year,26 days | from the sounds-about-right dept.

United Kingdom 61

Anita Hunt (lissnup) writes "Hot on the heels of Dave Cameron's demands to make such content universally 'opt-in,' the Independent reports 'Westminster computers were prevented from accessing sex sites 114,844 times last November alone and on 55,552 in April, while February saw just 15 and in June officials blocked 397 attempts.' No explanation has been offered for the variation, although it would be interesting to know if the fall in the number of recorded/reported attempts coincides with the date the FOI request was filed."

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Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44760959)

They 'reclassified' accessing sex sites to count just recreational visits, not for research, study or to watch the "Prime Minister Fucks a pig" video(*).

(* for those who dont know its a reference to a show called Black Mirror by Charlie Brooker)

Re:Let me guess... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44761015)

Why on earth does this make the frontpage? Who cares about the Soviet Republic of Great Brittain? More cameras than the KGB could ever imagined, and the right to detain innocent people without lawyers or judicial oversight. I hope that rotten country gets to see the effects of Global Warming soon.

Re:Let me guess... (3, Funny)

Goose In Orbit (199293) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761059)

Dissing the 52nd State.... isn't that classed as Treason yet?

Re:Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44761071)

I hope that rotten country gets to see the effects of Global Warming soon.

So they can finally make their own wine?

Re:Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44761199)


Re:Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44765821)

Global warming? In our dank, mildew scented isle? Surely you jest. Over here on the odd occasion the sun makes an appearance the number of UFO sightings go through the roof.

Look up the word "Global". (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44767285)


Bogus. (3, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761063)

Those figures look bogus.

One month has 114,000 accesses, another month just 15.

I'm suspicious of those figures.

Of course, I do still expect that they are a bunch of porn hounds.

Re:Bogus. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761097)

Those figures look bogus.

One month has 114,000 accesses, another month just 15.

I'm suspicious of those figures.

Of course, I do still expect that they are a bunch of porn hounds.

Perhaps they're like the American Congress, and take month-long vacations?

Re:Bogus. (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761197)

Perhaps they're like the American Congress, and take month-long vacations?


But not in Febuary.

Re:Bogus. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44761255)

It's quite simple, MPs rut in early winter. Curious species, beautiful plumage.

Re:Bogus. (1)

snakeplissken (559127) | 1 year,26 days | (#44762365)

MPs rut in early winter. Curious species, beautiful plumage.

if only they were all nailed to a perch as well

Re:Bogus. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44788797)

That's what the peerage is for.

Re:Bogus. (1)

daremonai (859175) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761291)

My guess is that all the high numbers represent errors in the filters, or the statistics, or both. Remember, these are only blocked accesses, not all accesses. Why would anyone - even a member of Parliament - repeatedly try some site that was blocked hundreds or thousands of times?

The submitter's theory makes no sense, either. If the drop in numbers was due to the FOI request, why would the numbers be down in February, up in April, and down in June?

Re:Bogus. (5, Interesting)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761843)

Having seem what sites get blocked, I'll agree with "bogus".

For a long time I couldn't get to the JPL Mars Exploration website, because of three letters in the middle of its URL (which used to be

And as for trying to access the old physics preprint server (since renamed to ArXiv): -- forget it.
(I hate to say what autocorrect just tried to corect "lanl" to...)

Re:Bogus. (1)

ozbon (99708) | 1 year,25 days | (#44764283)

Why should the high numbers represent errors, but the low ones don't?

I'd tend more to think that the low figures equated either with a) reclassification or b) having got rid of some people who were constantly trying.

Also, how do you know they were repeated access attempts on a site, rather than attempts at many, many sites, all of which got blocked for some reason or other?

Re:Bogus. (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761103)

You don't know what is blocked until you try to access it. I've seen the strangest websites blocked by corporate filters. I seriously doubt they're trying to access

Re:Bogus. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44761269)

You don't know what is blocked until you try to access it. I've seen the strangest websites blocked by corporate filters. I seriously doubt they're trying to access

Not just that, but if porn is blocked why would you be intentionally trying to access it. These are false clicks, viruses, redirects, and as you say, stupid blocking. At one location I could never seem to remember that urban dictionary was blocked.

Re:Bogus. (5, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761343)

Boy ain't that the truth! I did a 6 month temp job at a hospital once and one of my jobs was to show nurses how to beat the porn filters! It turned out the PHB who had bought the crap (at an insane markup over a martini lunch from what the rumor mill said) refused to even entertain the thought that his software might be shit but the stupid software would block ANYTHING to do with words like breast or prostrate no matter how many times the IT guys told the stupid software not to, kinda a problem when you have a large part of the hospital dealing with cancer. So I got to go out each morning and show the noobs how to blow past all the filters that the PHB paid insane money to put up, the wonders that is corporate bullshit.

Re:Bogus. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44762021)

But what about 'prostate'?

Re:Bogus. (1)

bored (40072) | 1 year,25 days | (#44763485)

Yah, and next time someone in Mgmt decided they need a reason to fire you with cause, they just point out how you broke company policy on a daily basis...

Sometimes its just better not to fight.

Re:Bogus. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | 1 year,25 days | (#44763575)

Nope! Mama didn't raise no fools so i had in writing from the head IT guy that part of my duty was "Showing new nurses how to bypass any and all filters that might hinder their performance" and that was that. But you have to remember I was only temping there so other than a basic CYA I didn't give a shit as i was headed to the outdoor by summer anyway.

But I can tell ya I'm a HELL of a lot happier now running my own little shop! Sure the pay ain't as good but ya know what? No more being told to fix a problem without even half the budget to get the job done, no more getting treated worse than a Mickey D's worker, no more constant calls on the weekends...I have to say my two boys staging an "intervention" to get me to quit working corporate was a real eye opener. They were sitting there practically in tears, saying "You don't smile anymore, you are always tired, you look like death..we just lost our mom and dad might as well be dead, you and grandma are all that we have left and if it comes down to losing you or doing without the extras? We can do without the tech junk and take out a lot easier than we can do without you".

Now I'm happy, my color is back, I'm in a long term relationship with a sweet gal who thinks the world of the boys, hell she even gets along with is good man, I must have been insane to work for the corps!

Re:Bogus. (4, Interesting)

X0563511 (793323) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761251)

Smells like a virus or malware could have ballooned those large figures.

Re:Bogus. (1)

Muros (1167213) | 1 year,25 days | (#44763613)

That isn't really even needed. Lots of advertisements on "legit" sites that redirect to dodgy ones, and pull images from those dodgy ones.

Re:Bogus. (2)

robthebloke (1308483) | 1 year,25 days | (#44764039)

or, the conservative party.

Re:Bogus. (2)

jonbryce (703250) | 1 year,25 days | (#44764119)

They had major problems with their filters when the Sexual Offences Act was being debated in parliament.

Re:Bogus. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44761739)

Everyone knew which ones were not being blocked after a while
Simple as that.

If it spikes back up there's been a new blacklist added/removed, and it probably settles right back down.

Re:Bogus. (1)

Shavano (2541114) | 1 year,26 days | (#44762625)

It could be the work of bots. Invested by bots in some months that access thousands of sex sites (and bill the Government), or infested by different bots that route sex site traffic through government computers.

Not bogus, blocked attempts, they stopped blocking (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | 1 year,25 days | (#44763709)

They are listing the number of blocked events. If they adjusted the filter to not block, the sudden fall in numbers would be explained.

Re:Bogus. (1)

jonbryce (703250) | 1 year,25 days | (#44764113)

Maybe internet porn was being discussed in parliament that month?

Use some logic and it might make sense. (2)

intermodal (534361) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761073)

First off, the definition of "sex site" is always questionable in this kind of situation, especially a workplace. Second, an infected computer is a pretty effective way to "hit" a lot of porn in a short period of time, at least as network monitors would count them. Third, it's been several months, meaning any number of variables could have changed that would significantly change the quantity of "hits".

It feels silly to count "hits" in this day and age. I'd better stop reading this thread before I get nostalgic for the days when I got to hate Geocities.

Re:Use some logic and it might make sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44761191)

Many filter servers tend to use a "Service" to get their filter list. At my company, for example, many Advertising servers are flagged Adult Content, as are gaming web sites.

During normal work-related browsing, I will often hit "adult content blocked" 10/15 times a day; usually off in a corner where an advertisement should be.

Re:Use some logic and it might make sense. (5, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761461)

You are correct in all counts, I would only add that there is a major source of infection that most geeks around here probably don't even think of that could seriously tilt those numbers...USB drives and sticks.

Working in a little shop I tend to get exposed to more hardware than most and can see trends emerging and in the past few years the number of cheap flash sticks infected with clickjackers and other bugs have frankly gone right through the roof. Since they can no longer count on autorun they instead disguise themselves as "value added" software on the drive, drive security software, free movie players, stuff like that. Many of these bugs are clickjacker variants which for those that have never encountered one are used to commit ad fraud by driving up hits to websites, many of which are porn sites. With a clickjacker you'll see page hits suddenly explode, I have seen clickjackers that would cause hundreds of new windows to open within seconds, talk about dragging a machine to a screeching halt.

So just going by the data we have here, with the number of hits going from over 10,000 to less than a hundred? Sounds like somebody let a clickjacker loose on their network. Feel sorry for the IT guy if that was the case, the new clickjackers are nasty little buggers and pretty damned hard to kill without just wiping everything and starting over. I hope they had a really solid backup strategy in place if that were the case, otherwise talk about a nightmare.

Re:Use some logic and it might make sense. (1)

tsotha (720379) | 1 year,26 days | (#44762075)

So just going by the data we have here, with the number of hits going from over 10,000 to less than a hundred? Sounds like somebody let a clickjacker loose on their network.

Or someone updated the white list. It may just be that legitimate sites related to current legislative topics were getting erroneously blocked by the filter. Filter gets updated and bam! All those adult clicks go away.

Re:Use some logic and it might make sense. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | 1 year,25 days | (#44763751)

But to have THAT many hits? I'm sorry but if it were a couple thousand I might buy that but at over 10,000 to less than a hundred? Sounds like a classic clickjacker attack to me.

I had of all things a preacher bring in his new laptop with a clickjacker, I was recommended by a member of his flock for being discrete and needless to say the guy was ashamed and feeling like a fool, sure that somebody would think he was a perv because his PC would just spam porn pop-ups the second he hit the desktop. I told him it was NOT his fault, he had no way of knowing that brand new USB drive he had bought to store church records had a "security tool" that was nothing but a trojan clickjacker, nor could he have known something could come infected OOTB. He ended up paying me an extra $100 to make up a little flyer and come explain to the congregation about the dangers of infected USB drives and sticks and last I heard he is still passing out that flyer to new members as a public service.

But I can tell you friend numbers THAT high? easily doable by a clickjacker bug, in fact at the last shop I worked before going out on my own we got a laptop and Doug decided to let it go, just to see if it could beat his previous record of over 800 pop-ups and infections? When this thing finally was done loading, a full two and a half HOURS later i might add, it had over 2300 infections and pop-ups! While that was pretty extraordinary a clickjacker opening 300-500 windows isn't rare and most clickjackers also will try to run a huge list of major exploits trying to get every PC on a network infected, really nasty bits of work.

Re:Use some logic and it might make sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44763615)

An anecdote: the most efficient malware vector ever devised is a CD with "[CompanyName] Payroll 2012" written on it with a sharpie. Leave in somewhere known to be frequented by employees of that company (e.g. parking area, popular coffee shop, on the street outside the door).

No longer a hit (1)

cold fjord (826450) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761085)

I'm guessing this play [] would no longer find as large an audience.

ya think?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44761093)

although it would be interesting to know if the fall in the number of recorded/reported attempts coincides with the date the FOI request was filed

either that or a corresponding increase in the number of members and staffers with internet-enabled mobiles.

they did not get "moral" overnight without reason (such as embarrassment, job loss, run out of office, loss of funds, loss of political clout, whatever.. or some people no longer get logged at all anymore)

Puritans back in charge of the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44761117)

Thought we got rid of them 400 years ago - seems they found their way back...

people wised up (2)

themushroom (197365) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761141)

and started looking for those nudes of Kate from their home machines.

iPads (1)

Phil Urich (841393) | 1 year,24 days | (#44775745)

Naw, they just all got private iPads (albeit invariably on the taxpayer dime).

Fair Work Australia sticks their thumb up for porn (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761165)

So-called "Fair Work Australia" the Australian Labor government's workplace commission declare that using your employer's facilities during work hours to distribute pornography to fellow employees is not a sackable offence. [] [] []

Three Victorian postal workers were dismissed after using the Australia Post email system to distribute sexually explicit material in their Dandenong workplace. They appealed, and the full bench of the Fair Work Commission - in a non-unanimous judgement - found the terminations were harsh and the workers could be reinstated. Two of the three commissioners said in a statement: "There is an emerging trend... regarding the accessing, sending or receiving and storing pornography by an employee as a form of serious misconduct that invariably merits termination of employment."

Whew! (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761231)

> FOI Request Reveals UK Houses of Parliament Workers' Passion For Adult Content

OH THANK GOD, they're normal human beings.

Re:Whew! (3, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761261)

I hope it's not normal to browse porn sites at work. Ewww.

Re:Whew! (1)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | 1 year,25 days | (#44763191)

It was for the one network admin I dated, but worse... His Saturday routine was to go in to do computer/network maintenance when he'd have the office to himself. He said he didn't wash his hands while there because he was careful not to get anything on them, but that a couple of times, he'd had to rinse his underwear in the office bathroom sink and dry it out in the break-room microwave. When I got a bit grossed out about his "activities" at the office, he claimed that several friends in the industry evidently did the same thing once in a while (and didn't see what the big deal was).

Re:Whew! (1)

u38cg (607297) | 1 year,25 days | (#44766019)

In fairness, it's not exactly a normal office. If you're an out of town MP it's more like a hotel without a bed.

Re:Whew! (1)

ozbon (99708) | 1 year,25 days | (#44764483)

They're politicians. That means they're neither normal, nor human.

Re:Whew! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44766983)

5000 people work there, so most of them aren't politicians.

Wankers the lot of them (1)

hippo (107522) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761281)

nuff said

Who controls the filters? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44761311)

What bothers me about this is content is filtered in the first place. True, respect for politicians is at an all time low, but they are supposed to represent the public and the idea that someone, unidentified can control what information these representatives have access to is troubling on principle.

Your tax dollars at work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44761313)

Privatize the government and this shit wouldn't happen. Basic economics. Statists around here are too dumb to understand this though.

Meaningless bullshit data. (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761323)

We have bluecoat in my office and I frequently hit a link for generally something funny and get BLOCKED: ADULT CONTENT warnings. Fact is, in most workplaces EXCEEDINGLY few people are actually stupid enough to genuinely look at pornography on the computers, far more often it's a false match or an interesting interpretation of what constitutes "adult content"

This article isn't worth a damn but it will get your average person up in arms about those "scumbags in Parliament!!!"

Move along, nothing to see here.

Re:Meaningless bullshit data. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44761803)

I'd like to point out that government offices are rarely what anyone who works for a living might consider a workplace.
Plus at least over here in the US we have actual video evidence of congressmen watching porn on their ipads and the such.

The fact that most blocks are for the wrong thing because the software is crap and way too broad to catch actual porn in all its incarnations and varieties without catching even more unrelated stuff does not change the fact that they are still watching porn. It just means that out of those 140 000 blocks, 40 000 of them are actualy porn, 100 000 are other things, and the other 200 000 bits of erotica visited or downloaded cleanly went through without a hitch because they weren't on the filter list.

They're still doing it though.

Hypocrisy in Government? (2)

bmo (77928) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761403)

No, say it isn't so! []

To update it to today, "So you're pitting your intelligence against the collective sex drive of everyone?"


It only makes sense (2)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44761721)

If everyone's allowed to look at porn, then you, who writes the laws, are not superior for you are not above them but standing alongside them.
Just like the catholic church wants no one else diddling little boys, the republicans want no other men having sex with college boys, the UK government wants to be the only ones around able to download titties.

All of those initiatives to ban things for "morality" only ever come down to a single thing: "Because I want to be more special than you are"

Possibly normal web filter catches. (5, Insightful)

Technician (215283) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761801)

We have a no porn policy posted at work as part of the hostile work environment compliance. We have a corporate filter with a splash page providing warnings. Policy does acknowledge the occasional mis-directed web page, bad search result, ads for adult content or products. Even Slashdot provided some warning pages due to some troll links that are NSFW.

Even though I have never searched for Adult content at work, I get the splash several times a week. Sometimes several ads on an otherwise normal page have shrunken warning splash screens so based on counts alone, normal web activity including surfing Slashdot is good for several hits to several 10's of hits on a Adult or other restricted site link. Hacking is the other big reason I see the warning page, but the description given for the reason the site is blocked is for hacking. When I follow info following Defcon talks often provides prohibited advertisements or articles or "Hacking" websites.

If you are not on a corporate filter/proxy, then you may not realise how easy it is to add to these counters without even trying.

Perhaps not as it appears (1)

nurb432 (527695) | 1 year,26 days | (#44761811)

Due to embedded iframes everywhere you look, i bet a lot of the blocked 'attempts' were due to these, and not the true intent.

AdBlock vs not (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44762423)

Your server filters will only register blocks when the client browser requests it, which probably means they are running ad-blockers in their browsers now. Seriously nothing to be excited over. Browse the web 'unprotected' and you'll get porn ads.

Nothing to see here.

From the Government that wants to filter the UKNet (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44763807)

I posted this elsewhere too...

Government Spokesperson said: "We do not consider the data to provide an accurate representation of the number of purposeful requests made by network users. [There are a] variety of ways in which websites can be designed to act, react and interact and due to the potential operation of third party software."

So they admit that their own statistics for their own filtering software are probably junk, and yet theyre happy to propose filtering and blocking on ALL of us {UK} because of some statistics about protecting children and the harm of pron.

"Some parliamentary staffers also hit back at the claims, blaming overzealous smut filters for mis-classifying innocent websites: The problem with the Porn Story Parliament Computers thing is that sometimes PICTs filter blocks news stories as pornographic"

Our elected representatives are researching news of the day on a filtered connection that may or may not be providing them with the full range of results. Then they decide if theyre going to be bothered to vote on a motion that they may or may not be fully informed about?

And they wonder why those of us with a least a passing interest and knowledge of how the series of connected tubes works, are telling them that the proposed new laws are a disaster?

Coincides? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44764141)

There wasn't just a fall in blocks; there was also a rise. That's called a "spike," and it can be indicative of abnormal behavior, especially when said spike goes from 15, to 55,000, to 400. Anyone with an IQ above room temperature can see that this is an anomaly.

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