British Parliament sought pornographic sites 300,000 times in past year
Lawmakers in the British Parliament attempted to visit pornographic websites nearly 300,000 times over the past 12 months, a number that averages more than 800 requests each day, according to internal government data.
The data includes “attempts to access websites categorized as pornography” by computers within parliament, encompassing devices linked to the parliamentary internet network.
Attempted visits by 1,300 British MPs, their staff, and other government employees were included. The figures were released by IT officials at the Palace in Westminster in response to a freedom of information request from The Huffington Post UK website.
Officials claimed the statistics were inflated by pop-up advertisements, auto-refresh and other features that did not reflect the true number. They were also investigating an alarming variance between monthly totals, with 114,844 visits in November 2012 and a mere 15 the following February.
“We do not consider the data to provide an accurate representation of the number of purposeful requests made by network users due to the variety of ways in which websites can be designed to act, react and interact and due to the potential operation of any third party software,” a spokeswoman for the House of Commons told The Guardian, adding that pornographic websites “may nevertheless be recorded in this dataset depending on website design.”
Earlier this year, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that internet service providers (ISPs) would soon begin automatically censoring pornographic websites to “protect children and their innocence.” British ISPs agreed to institute a ban that will impact 95 percent of web users “by the end of the year,” Cameron said. He has stated that viewing pornography is “corroding childhood” and “distorting” a child’s view of relationships.
Critics have worried that the ban, which ISPs will turn on by default, will also include violent web pages and others sites not widely accepted by a general audience. Jimmy Wales, one of Cameron’s advisers and a co-founder of Wikipedia, said the government’s intentions were “absolutely ridiculous.”