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March 24 2016

Hardship: Porn May Be Blocked on Computers of Government Workers

Patrice J. Lee

Congress has its hands full of problems with federal workers from VA officials fudging wait times for veterans to DEA agents hosting sex parties while on duty. Yet, they now have to tackle workers who are watching porn while on the clock.

A North Carolina congressman has introduced a bill to mandate that porn blockers be placed on all federal computers except for those used by law enforcement monitoring graphic websites for work purposes. This follows an effort from last year, but this bill would try to stop federal employees from accessing, watching, or sharing pornography on government- issued computers and devices.

We're foursquare against federal bureaucrats watching porn at work--but do we need a law to prevent it? Don't answer that question! Although language pushing for filters made it into the 2016 spending bill, it may not go far enough or cover all workers.

Federal News Radio reports:

[Rep. Walter] Jones said the porn-proscribing clause in the omnibus bill was left out of a part that outlines funding for a division of agencies that includes the departments of Defense, State and Interior.

“We applaud you for including this funding restriction for many parts of the government. However, we are deeply troubled that it was not included for all the federal government,” Jones wrote in his March 17 letter. “In particular, it was not included for several agencies, including the EPA, the SEC, and the Department of the Interior, which have been the subject of high profile media stories about their employees surfing porn at work.”

Jones told the  committee he’d like to see future appropriations bills include more strict language about pornography.

As we reported, eight  federal employees accused of misconduct racked up 21,000 hours on paid administrative leave at an estimated cost of $1.1 million. The two most egregious cases were of porn-watching EPA workers who earned $120,000 a year and reportedly spent between one to six hours each day viewing and downloading pornography on government computers. Although the EPA learned about this in November 2013 and May 2014, it wasn’t until March 2015 that action was taken.

NRO explains just how bad one of the cases was:

I’m pretty laissez-faire about pornography as such, but you federales are some thoroughly creepy weirdos. One compulsive porno-phile over at the EPA was watching so much porn that it caught the attention of the Office of the Inspector General — i.e., he was watching so much porn that a federal official noticed — and when the OIG investigator showed up to see what the deal was, you know what that EPA guy did? He kept right on watching porn, with the OIG inspector in his office. At the FCC, bureaucratic home of the people who enforce such obscenity laws as we have, employees routinely spend the equivalent of a full workday each week watching porn. Treasury, General Service Administration, Commerce — porn, porn, and more porn.

In a normal workplace, watching a day’s worth of porn while on the clock and using company-issued property would get you a pink. What federal workers do at home is their business, but when it's on our taxpayer dime and using our tax-funded property, it becomes our problem. 

These workers have been getting away with this behavior because they can. If they had any fear of being fired, they wouldn't be watching porn on the clock.

 We’ve covered the issue of administrative leave and how it has become a paid vacation for misbehaving employees or a tool of retribution against whistle blowers. If the system is reformed to ensure unacceptable behavior is addressed with celerity, then we’ll see less of this kind of behavior.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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