Following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the Huffington Post, House of Commons authorities acknowledged that users of the Parliamentary Network servers, including both parliamentary members and their staff, have repeatedly attempted to access websites classified on parliament's network as pornographic between May 2012 and July 2013.
According to the official figures, the number of attempts to access such websites via the Parliamentary Network peaked for 2012 at 114,844 last November and at 55,552 in April for 2013.
The figures have varied wildly, with the peak in attempted access this April more than halving in the following month to just 18,436 this May.
Parliamentary officials indicated that the figures would be inflated by websites automatically refreshing and thus adding to recorded access attempts. Additionally, pop-up or embeddable content like videos and pictures could inflate the numbers.
A House of Commons spokeswoman said the statistics do not prove a user "intended" to access a pornographic website because "a user may access a site that contains optional or automatic links to others, or other ‘pop-up’ arrangements, which are recorded as requests."
However, the spokeswoman declined to respond to the question that such content which would likely be deemed "pornographic" on parliamentary servers would not be found while surfing ordinary mainstream websites. The spokeswoman was unable to answer why the figure could vary drastically from month to month.
Parliamentary officials refused to reveal exactly what their servers judge as "pornographic" for “security” reasons when asked by the Huffington Post UK.
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