Ofcom staff tried to access porn 4,00 times in three months

Watchdog says figure is consistent with its role in protecting children from harmful material

Staff at the media regulator Ofcom have made more than 4,000 “attempts” to access pornographic material online in the last three months, official figures show.

The watchdog has recorded 4,234 such bids since 12 June - a figure it claims is consistent with its role in protecting children from harmful material.

But a think-tank has questioned the figure and urged the regulator to impose “stiff penalties” where employees are found to have broken rules.

One member of staff at Ofcom has been dismissed in the last five years for computer misuse which constituted a “serious breach” of the regulator's policies, according to its records. Another employee has been issued with a final written warning for downloading a film.

Ofcom said neither of these cases related to adult material.

But it said its IT systems captured a diverse range of content of “varying degrees of sexual explicitness,” which could range from The Sun's topless page three pin-ups to “explicit pornographic content”.

However it said “attempts” to access adult content may also be recorded when an employee looks at something seemingly innocent and a pop-up or advertisement appears “originating from somewhere else”. It said one web-page could also generate several “attempts”, meaning figures may be inflated.

“In addition some websites are blocked due to them containing certain key words related to 'adult' content - even though the website itself is not an 'adult' website - therefore some of the apparent attempts to access 'adult' material may be a result of a slightly over-zealous security algorithm, than a colleague trying to access 'adult' content,” it stated.

Steven George-Hilley, director of technology at the Parliament Street think-tank which obtained the figures, said the data raised questions for the watchdog.

“Clearly Ofcom needs to get to grips with this problem to ensure staff know not to try and access explicit content online,” he said.

“As a taxpayer-funded regulator of offensive content, there should be stiff penalties in place for employees who breach corporation guidelines.”

A spokesman for the regulator said: “Ofcom has a statutory duty to protect children from adult content. This requires staff in a range of departments to legitimately access online adult material. The number of times staff have accessed online adult content is consistent with meeting this duty.

“For example, Ofcom's duty to secure broadcasting standards requires us to access and review online content that is promoted on adult TV channels, to ensure compliance with relevant rules.

“Our duty regarding TV delivered over the internet requires us to access online adult content to assess the adequacy of the restrictions to protect children viewing such material.

“Ofcom is on the board of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, which aims to protect children from access to pornography. We have also been working to ensure that children are protected from pornographic material accessed from mobile devices.

“It is also important to note that Ofcom's web filtering programme captures images of nudity, such as someone wearing a swimsuit or page three, as well as pornographic content.”

PA

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week