Lawmaker Calls To Block Federal Employees' Porn Access

Lawmaker Calls To Block Federal Employees’ Porn Access

Congressman Walter B. Jones of North Carolina says it’s time to block federal employees’ porn access at work. He’d like to prevent taxpayers from funding access to pornographic sites on government computers. Though he lists the measure as a values issue, he also makes a fiscal connection, and is asking that future budgets prevent funding for any network that is able to freely access porn sites.

In a letter to the House Appropriations Committee, Jones expressed his gratitude for lines in a 2016 budget omnibus that prevents funds from being used to pay for computer networks without blocks in place to prevent access to porn.

“None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to maintain or establish a computer network unless such network blocks the viewing, download, or exchange of pornography.”

Walter B Jones: Federal employees viewing porn on taxpayer dime
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]
Senator Jones’ complaint is that these lines are included in portions of the bill funding some departments (including Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Education, and Veteran’s Affairs) but was left out of others (including the FDA, EPA, and SEC).

The Washington Times reported in 2014 on an EPA employee who was caught spending hours per day of company time accessing porn sites. In 2010, CNN reported that the SEC discovered that it, too, was paying employees to surf porn during work hours — not one employee, but 33 of them.

Jones is asking for all future appropriations bills to ensure that use of federal funds to maintain a computer network on which employees can access porn is absolutely forbidden for all agencies.

Though Jones lists federal employees’ access to porn as a “values” issue in his press release, he also makes a connection to the cost and to the national debt.

“We are over $19 trillion in debt, and taxpayers are paying for federal employees to waste time at work surfing porn.”

Jones does acknowledge that there are cases in which federal employees, in some agencies, might have a legitimate reason to access porn during work hours.

“Unless necessary as part of a criminal investigation, prosecution or adjudication, federal employees should not be able to view, download or exchange pornography on the taxpayers’ dime.”

Jones isn’t the first to call for action on federal employees’ porn habits. Representative Mark Meadows, also of North Carolina, has introduced bills to outlaw the access of porn from any federal computer. In 2014 and 2015, Meadows introduced the Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act, which was considered by a committee and reported as “favorably received” but has not been voted on.

Mark Meadows: Federal employees porn viewing at work is a problem
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]
Citing the case of the EPA employee, whose employment was not terminated despite the discovery of numerous paid hours lost to porn viewing, Meadows declared, “It’s appalling that it requires an act of Congress to ensure that federal agencies block access to these sites.”

He also expressed a concern that porn files downloaded onto federal computers carry a risk of viruses and malware, and could thus potentially carry a security threat. Notably, according to Fox4KC, anti-virus giant Symantec has debunked the long-held belief that porn sites are the most virus-ridden dangers, saying that sites related to religion are more than four times as risky — but porn sites did still rate an average of 25 security threats per site. PC World, meanwhile, warns that torrent and other download sites are among the most dangerous.

Neither Meadows nor Jones addressed whether federal employees are spending taxpayer-supported work hours on any other non-work related hobbies, activities, or websites, or whether gaming or other non-work websites, besides porn, should be blocked.

If federal employees’ porn access is blocked on government computers, should other non-work sites, such as gaming, torrent, or entertainment sites, be blocked as well?

[Image via Shuttertstock]

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