White supremacy, how to cheat exams: What ministry staff are searching online

Government department staff have been Googling the alt-right, online gaming and how to cheat exam websites while on the taxpayer dime.

Documents obtained by Newshub under the Official Information Act show Treasury officials have been stopped from accessing blocked websites 1,048,575 times from October 2018 to August 2019 - including multiple attempts to access 'white nationalist' sites.

One of those websites is Stormfront.org, which describes itself as a community of racial realists and idealists.

"Black, Hispanic, Asian and Jewish Nationalists openly support their racial interests, with American taxpayers even required to support the Jewish ethnostate of Israel. We are White Nationalists who support true diversity and a homeland for all peoples, including ours. We are the voice of the new, embattled White minority!"

Treasury confirmed the person who attempted the search is no longer employed, but says it cannot be 100 percent certain it wasn't a deliberate access attempt. It believes it was generated automatically by a link in the comments section of a mainstream website.

"If anyone were to be found using our systems inappropriately (for example, for any purpose that is not consistent with the behaviour expected of a State servant as defined in the State Sector Code of Conduct (Standards of Integrity and Conduct), or to generate, access, or send pornographic, sexually explicit or offensive material) the Treasury would take action (including disciplinary action) appropriate to the circumstances," a Treasury spokesperson said.

Infostormer.com was also blocked. It describes itself as the world's most authoritative "pro-kitten" website on the planet, presumably to appear innocent. But according to Mediamatters.com, it's a self-described "alt-right" website that features racist and anti-Semitic content. 

Treasury says from the information available "this was a single instance where two 'objects' triggered a block each". It believes it was an automatic attempt.

Treasury staff also tried to get through to ReturnofKings.com, a blog "for heterosexual, masculine men" who believe men should be masculine and women should be feminine.

"ROK aims to usher the return of the masculine man in a world where masculinity is being increasingly punished and shamed in favor of creating an androgynous and politically-correct society that allows women to assert superiority and control over men" it says.

There were also attempts to view the darknet, Truthrevolt.org, runtoftheweb.com and torrenting and proxy websites.

"Our work covers a very broad range of issues, for example justice and security, so information searches could unearth or attempt to link to sites that get blocked," the Treasury spokesperson said.

Newshub previously revealed the Ministry for the Environment tried to access pornographic websites between July 27 and October 25, 2019.

There was also a bid to access The Daily Stormer which has been labelled 'an American far-right neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and Holocaust denial commentary and message board website'. 

The site has been touted as the most viewed hate site in the world. The Ministry is unsure if it was deliberate or not. The person who tried to make the visit no longer works at the Ministry, but the departure wasn't related.

There were also more than 100 blocked attempts to access alcohol related and lingerie websites plus cannabis sellers and 'how-to' guides on growing the drug. 

A Ministry spokesperson says its IT policy is robust.

"There is no way to be certain that staff members attempted to access the sites, or whether they arrived in the system as adware or malicious pop-ups which register a blocked attempt.

"What is important is that the Ministry's IT system did its job in filtering potentially inappropriate website requests."

Between April 2019 and August 2019, there were 41,646,937 blocked sites Te Puni Kokiri (Ministry of Maori Development) staff have attempted to access. They include stopping 31,075 attempts to use dating websites, 1,036,230 gaming, 6845 job searches, 116 phishing and 39 school cheating information attempts and three hate and discrimination blocks.

Documents released to Newshub also revealed the Ministry of Maori Development staff tried to access Pornhub.com 42 times between October 17 2018 and August 1, 2019. Thirty-four attempts were blocked while eight attempts were successful. The Ministry didn't respond to requests for comment.