Over 24,000 attempts to ‘access porn’ from UK parliament

Authorities say majority of efforts, recorded in six month period, were not deliberate

More than 24,000 attempts were made to access pornographic websites in London’s Houses of Parliament between June and October of last year. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters.

More than 24,000 attempts were made to access pornographic websites in London’s Houses of Parliament between June and October of last year. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters.

 

More than 24,000 attempts were made to access pornographic websites in London’s Houses of Parliament between June and October of last year, according to official data.

The figure of 24,473 attempts represents around 160 requests per day on average since last year’s election from computers and other devices connected to the parliamentary network - which is used by MPs, members of the House of Lords and staff.

The data comes amid a sex scandal in Westminster, which saw prime minister Theresa May sack her de facto deputy Damian Green after he made “misleading” statements about allegations that police found pornography on computers in his parliamentary office.

In his resignation letter, Mr Green continued to deny “unfounded and deeply hurtful” claims that he downloaded or viewed the material.

The data, released after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Press Association, shows a spike in attempts to visit the sites in September, with 9,467 requests from both the Houses of Lords and Commons that month.

However, parliamentary authorities say the majority of attempts are not deliberate.

Decrease

The figures also show a sharp decrease in attempts to access pornographic websites in recent years. In 2016, the parliamentary filtering system blocked 113,208 attempts, down from 213,020 the previous year.

Figures for January and February of last year could not be provided by the parliamentary authorities due to changes in technology and the way the data is held. But the available data showed there were 30,876 attempts from March to October.

During this period, parliament was dissolved from late April to early June ahead of the general election, and MPs were away during the summer recess from the end of July to early September.

A Parliamentary spokesman said of the figures: “All pornographic websites are blocked by Parliament’s computer network.

“The vast majority of ‘attempts’ to access them are not deliberate. The data shows ‘requests’ to access websites, not visits to them.

“There are 8,500 computers on the parliamentary network, which are used by MPs, peers, their staff and staff of both Houses.

“This data also covers personal devices used when logged on to Parliament’s guest Wi-Fi.”

A separate (FOI) request showed there were also at least 2,75 million attempts to access blocked websites on the parliamentary network from January to October. - PA