Live sex chats, bondage and smelly sock fetishes: The websites public officials attempt to access

Newshub can reveal public officials have been attempting to access websites with content such as live sex chats, bondage and smelly sock fetishes. 

Department of Conservation staff have been blocked from accessing pornography websites 148 times since January 29, with 51,000 attempts to access other blocked sites between July 31 and August 30.

Documents obtained by Newshub under the Official Information Act show of the 148 blocked porn sites, 54 were classified as referrals and 94 were direct access requests. 

The documents say these can be deliberate attempts to access these sites, or they can be URLs embedded in legitimate sites that a user clicks.

Staff attempted to access the likes of yeahcam.com, nudecelebvideo.net, clipsxxx.net, playboy.com and stripchat.com. No one attempted to access pornhub.com. 

Black Screen of Smartphone with Latte Coffee on Blackboard

The 51,000 blockages were related to 19 website classifications:

Pornography; Phishing; Marijuana; Hacking; Gambling; Dating; Web chat; Proxy Avoidance; Peer to peer file sharing; Other adult materials; Nudity and Risqué; Malicious Websites; Lingerie and Swimsuit; Instant Messaging; Illegal or Unethical; Dynamic DNS; Drug Abuse; Brokerage and Trading; Advocacy Organisations; and DOC block STD.

The Department of Conservation refused Newshub's request for an interview. A spokesperson said they are satisfied staff are not accessing pornographic sites as they 'wouldn't even be aware their computer was trying to access these sites'. 

"As you know URLs for porn sites are frequently embedded in legitimate sites which mean people can be referred or directed to blocked sites," the spokesperson said. 

"We suggest Newshub might like to check its own sponsored material because it could be directing people to R-rated websites."

But AUT's Head of Computer Sciences Professor Dave Parry told Newshub the searches appear intentional.

"There's really no other explanation for what's going on. Effectively nowadays, most legitimate sites will not redirect you to something else and there should be good enough security on your browser to stop it passing you through to somewhere else. So I think that's a deliberate attempt."

He says porn websites don't often pay to be embedded in others.

"People are working in that area (porn) in order to make money. I don't think there's a huge drive for the porn sites to do this, far more for sites such as gambling sites or for sites that are downloading malware or viruses to a computer because that allows them to either make money by ransomware or by infecting your computer and getting it to do work for them," Parry said.

Deputy State Services Commissioner Helene Quilter released a statement on the matter to Newshub.

"The public service has clear standards of integrity and conduct. If there is evidence an agency device has been used in an unacceptable manner, it is the State Services Commission's expectation that the chief executive takes appropriate action."

What's the Government doing about porn?
 

Sweeping changes to the rules governing the material are being considered.  Earlier this year Newshub revealed Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin has everything on the table, including a crackdown on Government agencies. 

Advice to Martin obtained by Newshub under the Official Information Act suggested the current laws around classification and broadcasting legislation are out-of-date.

The different options being looked at that could make it more difficult to access explicit content include:

  • require Government agencies to adopt policies that prohibit users from accessing the material
  • require all retail shops, schools, businesses and public areas which provide free Wi-Fi to the public to ensure appropriate filtering
  • require internet service providers to make available to all subscribers technology which will allow the parents to monitor and control child's access
  • directing the state department of education to take a direct role in educating parents of enrolled students on the harms of pornographic material
  • require schools to adopt policies and implement filters to protect students from pornographic material while using school devices or networks
  • R18 access to porn websites: Residents will have to provide age ID to have access
  • expanding Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System: Internal Affairs already has a targeted filter around child exploitation, child slavery, child sex offences and paedophilia

Pornhub came down strongly on the proposed crackdown. 

"We strongly oppose the New Zealand Government making any legislative changes as it pertains to how people watch porn," Pornhub vice president Corey Price told Newshub. 

It says its website is 'fully RTA [Restricted to Adults] compliant', which allows every page to be blocked by the simple parental control tools.

"We firmly believe that parents are best placed to police their children's online activity using the plethora of tools already available in modern operating systems and devices," Price said. 

"Laws like these have the potential to send a message to parents that they no longer need to monitor their children's online activity."

Newshub.

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