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Economy Tanked While Government Surfed Porn 405

Posted by Soulskill
from the gotta-have-your-priorities dept.
unixan writes "In a report by the SEC Inspector General that smacks of fiddling while Rome burns, 33 recent ethics investigations all showed that the government employees responsible for keeping an eye on the economy were instead obsessed with surfing porn — while the economy was tipping over. One cited example: 'A senior attorney at the SEC's Washington headquarters spent up to eight hours a day looking at and downloading pornography. When he ran out of hard drive space, he burned the files to CDs or DVDs, which he kept in boxes around his office.'"
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Economy Tanked While Government Surfed Porn

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  • ... government employees responsible for keeping an eye on the economy were instead obsessed with surfing porn ...

    So when they were studying boobs online they should have been studying the boobs that were busy running/ruining our financial and housing industries? Understandable how those orders could get confused.

    About 16 percent of men with Internet access at work admit to looking at online porn while at the office, according to a 2006 survey by Websense Inc.

    Look at the man in the cubicle across from you. Now look at the two men to the left of you. Now look at the two men to the right of you. One of them is surfing porn at work.*

    * Unless it's you. And if it is you, how stupid are you? Seriously? Seriously you'd jeopardize your job for that?

    • by Jeng (926980) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:02PM (#31958090)

      Any non-work internet activity is risking ones job.

    • by TheMidnight (1055796) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:05PM (#31958140)
      Wow, talk about bureaucracy. There's no way I would have gotten away with downloading that much on a work connection, even if it was Linux ISOs or legal, harmless data. How did these guys get away with it for so long? Let's say this guy had a 500 GB hard drive...then stacks of DVDs at 4.7 GB each...that's a lot of smut a day. My network admins would have been knocking on my office door. Once they found out what it was, I'd never find a job again.

      Something tells me the network admins for that government department must have been doing the same thing, or were incompetent, or playing WoW (or maybe some hellish combination).
      • by Jeng (926980) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:07PM (#31958182)

        I'm sure IT was well aware of the situation by the time the hard drive was full.

        Who watches the watchers? Ceiling cat does.

        • They probably were aware...but whats the point of doing anything about it?

          I mean, the full HDD lawyer's job is probably to prosecute people that the SEC examiners have found evidence against...So as far as I can tell, he was doing his job since they had failed to actually find anybody to prosecute before everything fell apart.

          Also..SEC...the X key is surprisingly close to the C key

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dasheiff (261577)

        When I was interning at the VA I noticed that one of the public computers for the vets to use had spyware on it. IT was contacted, ran their one program, but the spyware was still there. They said that's all they can do. Government IT people don't go crazy by not realizing that their marching orders are insane. Also have no undergrad at all probably doesn't help.

      • by e2d2 (115622) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:16PM (#31958350)

        Yeah this is shocking given the typical government network is locked down to the Nth degree. When I contracted on site for the Dept. of Health they actually cut me off from the network because I used torrent to download a Linux ISO. I violated policy and it cut off soon after the download started, and the jack went dead. It wasn't just "you can't surf the internet anymore". It was "VIOLATER! KILL HIM!" and I got dressed down soon after. So they closely monitored it.

      • by senorbum (1795816) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:24PM (#31958486)
        You'd be surprised at what people get away with in corporations. This really isn't that surprising. People are just like 'ZOMG its gov't failure' instead of 'ZOMG it people failure'. I bet many large companies would have similar statistics (sadly).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hitmark (640295)

        or the guy had enough bureaucratic weight that it would flatten anyone that spoke up about it...

        heck, sometimes i suspect the office rats that do not get replaced during a election cycle either collect stuff they can leak on a "temporary" boss in case he becomes to uppity, or just wait the term out and then go back to business as usual if said boss got voted out of office.

        • by MaWeiTao (908546)

          I'm pretty sure these aren't the kinds of positions that get replaced every election. I'm sure they get to keep their jobs for life, if they were so inclined.

      • by timeOday (582209)
        You don't think this happens at private companies?

        It's sort of like medicare fraud. Private insurers struggle with insurance fraud all the time too, but people feel like money one or two steps away from the taxes they paid is actually still theirs, so they are more attached to it.

      • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:34PM (#31958614) Journal

        I guarantee you that any competant IT department would not only be fully aware of what was going on, but also smart enough not to stir a pot that big.

        If I came in tomorrow and the entire sales team was found to be mass downloading pron, what could we do? Get the entire team fired? Who is going to pick up the slack from that? Can't just replace people just like that. We could filter their content, but how long before that becomes a headache when they can't reach legit sites. We can throttle them but then there are complaints that they can't get any work done while they are chewing through bandwidth on a bit-torrent.

        IT's job is to make sure that everyone is up and running. Its the managers job to make sure that people are doing their work. When people start treating IT like a police force, then something is seriously wrong, and you need to look at the power structure and layout of your company. We can be eyes and ears, we can inform managers, but its definately NOT our job to go and get people fired.

    • by jbeach (852844) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:05PM (#31958146) Homepage Journal
      Yep - watching people screwing, while the people they are supposed to be watching are screwing the public. Which makes the SEC like the glory hole in Wall Street.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by alexborges (313924)

      This puritan interpretation is just dumb.

      Porn did not kill the economy, the SEC has way more than 30 employees. C'mon.... If porn was such a baaaad thing, no company would be doing anything and the economy wouldve.... oh wait!

    • by abigor (540274)

      Are you surfing Slashdot at work?

      • Yeah, surely this isn't news to anyone here. How about a story about the ONE guy at the SEC that DIDN'T surf pr0n?

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:15PM (#31958328) Journal

      Look at the man in the cubicle across from you. Now look at the two men to the left of you. Now look at the two men to the right of you. One of them is surfing porn at work.*

      Wrong. One of them *has* surfed porn at work at some point. They are not doing it necessarily right now. Times were different a few years ago when internet traffic was not routinely monitored and we had offices where no one could see our monitors.

      Hell, I worked in a small office where the owner routinely mailed porn to everyone who worked there. I was asked about how I felt about porn when I interviewed there (in '96).

  • And we... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    And we surf slashdot rather than doing our own jobs

  • that in the case of the attorney, an ethics complaint is filed with the state bar. This is unconscionable behavior for an attorney and should result in disbarment.

  • Not news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:05PM (#31958142)
    As of 2007, the SEC employed 3798 people. They found 33 cases of apparently habitual porn surfing (I get the impression a single visit didn't count, but visiting a few times a week would get noticed). Is it actually news that ~1% of *any* organization consisting primarily of office workers with internet connections would surf for porn? Finding 1% of any given population with no damn common sense or self control is trivial. I'm not sure how it's any different because the SEC numbers are known.
    • Re:Not news (Score:5, Informative)

      by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:18PM (#31958388)

      Yeah, this is a manufactured controversy issue by the GOP. They are attacking the SEC because its attacking Goldman Sachs and trying to regulate the industry that almost took the economy down. Republicans have no shame.

      http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hOvd2ZHpLgAEKjwU87acksA24EDQD9F8SEUO0 [google.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Americano (920576)
        I'm sorry, but if you're not outraged about this sort of behavior on the taxpayers' dime, you're an idiot. It's not a "blame Obama" or "blame Bush" response - it's a fire the sons of bitches and make sure this doesn't happen again response, coupled with a make sure the SEC is doing its fucking job response.

        I don't blame Bush, I don't blame Obama - neither of them were showing up in these guys' offices with a tube of Intensive Care lotion saying, "Here, let me help you with that so you don't get chafed."
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          You're going to have to be outraged about a lot of stuff then. Because *every* office, private sector or public is going to have this going on to some extent. Yes, the people involve should be fired or at the very least warned and monitored, but there is waste wherever you go. The government is going to have some office workers taking non-productive breaks, it's a cost of doing business, because they employ people, not mythical puritanical civil servants that do nothing but work for the benefit of the taxpa
    • by vxice (1690200)
      wait it is illegal to surf porn at work? why didn't anyone tell me? get me from my porn when news that matters shows up not just a few cases of people not doing their job. the real problem is this half regulation deal we got going. now any company that is partially regulated thinks that because they are regulated and none of the regulators are saying anything then they must be doing a good job and will keep with their crap.
    • by fermion (181285)
      OTOH, 17 of these are senior level managers making more than base GS-15. I wonder how many top level managers there are? Of course would expect that managers would surf porn at 10X the rate of those that actually do work.
    • by Kumiorava (95318)

      Same fraction of congressmen/women/senators/presidents are found each year cheating on their spouses, having wide stances at restrooms, paying for escort services, etc. I don't see why there is such a big deal, unless there is some political motive behind this.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Americano (920576)
        It is a big deal because this is YOUR money these people are getting paid with, and they are not doing the job they are being paid for, and entrusted with.

        "Private-time" sexual behavior is one thing - surfing porn, cheating, "wide stances", and even (arguably) paying for escort services on your own time, and on your own dime, is one thing. Doing it when you're being paid to do a job is unacceptable, no matter who you work for, and who sits in the oval office.
  • These poor bastards are going to be burned at the afraid-of-sexuality stake, instead of the do-your-damn-job-instead-of-goofing-off stake. They deserve to be fired like any other idiot who goofs off, but I'm sure they're going to be charged with sex crimes of some sort.
    • by Dr. Evil (3501)

      that's true, and sad. Surfing for porn is just a form of escapism. They could be powerless, overwhelmed or drowning in the bureaucracy. Porn is the same thing as Facebook, doing your email or hanging out on Slashdot.

      which reminds me... I should re-enable my Slashdot parental controls adn get back to work :-)

      # slashdot
      #$IPTABLES -I FORWARD -d 216.34.181.48 -j REJECT
      #$IPTABLES -I FORWARD -d 216.34.181.45 -j REJECT

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ergo98 (9391)

      These poor bastards are going to be burned at the afraid-of-sexuality stake

      This sounds very erudite and post-contemporary, but it's also nonsensical cruft.

      Playing Tetris is slacking off. Browsing porn at work is a sign of really, really questionable, almost "flaming out" judgment.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BlueKitties (1541613)
        Oh for christsake, it's not nonsensical, it's true. People are terrified of 'sex,' and anything sex related. It's the latest hip-craze to hate crimes involving sexuality. I can almost hear the hissing masses reading this article "Sssssssseeex offendderrssssss!" Bad judgement, yes; It's just as bad as playing Farmville or WoW. Not worse though.
    • Seeing as you are posting on /. should you be burned at the do-you-damn-job-instead-of-goofing-off stake?

      Guilty as charged....
  • If the regulators are basically at the whim of the industry [wikipedia.org], then clearly, they don't have much to do... The de-regulationists will say this is government waste and move to disband or "rightsize" the SEC. Meanwhile, everyone else is concerned about regulatory capture. This is a clear indicator.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      what? that less then 1% of a ork force was misusung work equipment? yeah, that's a clear indicator~

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:06PM (#31958168)

    Would the economy be OK now? Just asking.....

  • I'm really curious as to when it's acceptable to look at someone’s history for productivity. I mean, Do you do regular checks of employees? Or do you wait until there is a problem and then use web history as another good reason as to why the employee shouldn't be working there?

    Just from a union and fairness point of view, it seems a bit off to only check one person’s history. If one person gets regularly checked, so should everybody else... Right?

    • And here I am posting this at work. Man would it would by ironic if i got fired for posting this

      (DISCLAIMER: I'm on break)

    • by neurovish (315867)

      I'm really curious as to when it's acceptable to look at someone’s history for productivity. I mean, Do you do regular checks of employees? Or do you wait until there is a problem and then use web history as another good reason as to why the employee shouldn't be working there?

      Just from a union and fairness point of view, it seems a bit off to only check one person’s history. If one person gets regularly checked, so should everybody else... Right?

      Why check unless there is a problem? If somebody is goofing off for 8 hours a day, but somehow still manages to get the work done, what is the problem? Of course, in PHB logic, imagine all the work that person could do if they weren't goofing off 8 hours a day! That could probably eliminate 5 redundancies!

      What about the diligent workers that spend 6 hours a day chasing their tails on problems that goof-off guy would have fixed in 10 minutes?

      (DISCLAIMER: waiting for an install to finish/code to compile)

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:08PM (#31958202) Homepage Journal

    As far as anyone can tell, not one of these people were fired for both not doing their job and for using work equipment in a HIGHLY non-work related manner.

    Then again, we have the same thing around here. We know for a fact and have documented at least two people repeatedly, for over half an hour each day for months on end, trying to access porn and porn-related sites. Yet, like the SEC, none have been canned.

    To use a tired comment, there used to be a time when one could work hard, get recognized and advance ones career through such work. No longer. Apparently failure is the new success.

    • We know for a fact and have documented at least two people repeatedly, for over half an hour each day for months on end, trying to access porn and porn-related sites. Yet, like the SEC, none have been canned.

      I have found the same thing in my network logs a couple of times. In each case I have messed with our proxy server to point those requests to https://www.pokemon.com/ [pokemon.com]
      Same thing right?

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:09PM (#31958220) Homepage Journal

    like a troll.

    A) DO you think people watch the economy by looking out a window? no. It's worded like the think the economy is in a box and people are just watching in case it finds a way out.

    B) They have no way of knowing what's going on in every board room in the financial industry

    c) IT's a large organization, of course some people where surfing porn. People are people.

    D) None of this excuse what they did. I'm only pointing out that just because it's "the government" doesn't mean the people running it aren't people.

  • How many "watchers" that everything should be all right, in all sectors, are surfing porn right now? How many will enter into a paranoid state and delete everything in their hard drives, including critical info? And how many of them will try to show that they were working instead of surfing porn and or uncover something big, or take out a lot of somewhat normal people (probably more normal than them) becuase not following to the letter some law?

    And, of course, who watches the watchers? 8 hours a day watchin
  • Sheesh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spazntwich (208070) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:12PM (#31958276)

    If this is that big a deal, I hope nobody finds out I've actually been having sex while the economy tanks.

    Especially my wife.

  • by Shrike82 (1471633) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:13PM (#31958290)
    Just a quick reminder to anyone thinking of condeming these people here on Slashdot - are you at work right now, reading Slashdot? Is that what you're paid for? The article reeks of sensationalism just because these people happened to be viewing porn instead of reading news, flicking through a book, watching YouTube, or a thousand and one other things that people do every day at work instead of actually working.
    • by EdIII (1114411) on Friday April 23, 2010 @03:51PM (#31959686)

      To be fair... I am taking a break and posting this while at work, although technically I am salaried, so as long as I put in at least 8-10 hours a day at work and keep delivering the code and properly managing the systems I think I am doing just fine.

      However.... Let's give credit where credit is truly due...

      One of those guys was surfing porn 8 hours a day, filling up his hard drive, and then burning it and keeping it in fucking boxes of burned CDs. That's fucking dedication. That was not taking a break. Porn was a full time job for that man, and his job performance was fucking excellent.

      I am not even upset that a considerable portion of our taxes went to Kleenex and hand lotion. That is at least something I am okay with providing. Better that than military helicopters killing innocent civilians in Iraq.

      All that said however, it is just sensationalism from the Republican party to be pushing it this hard and I doubt that man is unique, or representative of all of the SEC, and I am sure ~1% of every organization has a man (or woman possibly - that's hot btw) super dedicated to porn.

  • Actually, this is a triumph of feminism.

    An SEC accountant attempted to access porn websites 1,800 times in a two-week period and had 600 pornographic images on her computer hard drive.

    SEC employees of all walks of life and genders are united in their quest for superior porn while at work!

  • by sl0ppy (454532) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:15PM (#31958322)

    ... is that they wanted to diddle while rome burned?

  • One wonders... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:15PM (#31958326) Journal
    Obviously, some organizations are just sclerotic and incompetent. Being a complex system is, actually, pretty tricky. However, some organizations are that way by design.

    In this case, was the SEC basically just incompetent, or was their incompetence tolerated, abetted, nurtured by those who really didn't want them to find anything?

    After all, in retrospect, it is fairly obvious that much of the apparent prosperity of the last decade or so was a bubble. Consumer spending based on imaginary wealth provided by homes appraised for large numbers, GDP numbers based on rampant construction of housing stock that nobody could actually afford to live in, various quite sophisticated flavors of financial chicanery and shell-gaming on Wall Street. Now, if you suspect that you are in a bubble, you have the option of trying to pop it before it gets any bigger, which provides the best long term outcome; but generally involves having it burst in your face, or riding it, and hoping that you can make it out of office/retire/move to a new job/cash out a big stack/etc. before it bursts. If you aren't excessively burdened in the ethics department, the latter is pretty sensible.

    In situations where you cannot, for political reasons, eliminate a regulatory body outright, there are various ways of quietly gutting it. Just cutting its budget usually helps, appointing an incompetent crony to mismanage it also works pretty well(and rewards a crony), I suspect that allowing incompetence to fester probably works to.

    Did the SEC manage to fuck up on its own, or was it permitted and tacitly encouraged to, since an SEC was needed; but nobody really wanted it to find anything?
  • by Delusion_ (56114) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:15PM (#31958332) Homepage

    the SEC is the host of our Strategic Porn Reserves. Then you'll thank that attorney's forward-thinking approach to preserving a domestic supply to reduce our vulnerability to the whims of foreign porn suppliers.

  • by jakobX (132504) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:15PM (#31958338)

    Surfed porn? Really. You couldnt find any better word that would rhyme with tanked. Sheesh.

  • by StickyWidget (741415) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:20PM (#31958418)

    "Economy Tanked while the Government Wanked."

    ~Sticky
    //No Karma, cause I stoled it.

  • The one funny thing about it is that SEC consists of mainly lawyers. That's right, not accountants, not economists, not inspectors but lawyers. This is on purpose, because they are just another captured/corrupt government organization that does not do its job. Example of them not doing its job is the story from Harry Markopolos [huffingtonpost.com], who by chance figured out the scheme Madoff was running and brought it to SEC's attention with all the evidence [wikipedia.org] but they never did anything about it.

    So they are incompetent peopl

  • I'm sure they'll do just fine managing the health care system.
  • by Torodung (31985) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:35PM (#31958640) Journal

    Boy, they sure took the Bush agenda seriously.

    --
    Toro

  • more laws and faster internet and more electronic accounting so those same regulators can simply watch more porn. The rules were being broken; adding more rules won't solve the problem. It's systemic, because there is NO accountability for doing your job, and there aren't any repercussions beyond MAYBE losing your job (maybe, because the Federal Employees Union will do their best to keep you in your job).

    .
    Here's an idea: contract out the regulatory oversight to a private company, and let them earn a sh

  • by unity100 (970058) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:42PM (#31958720) Homepage Journal

    should they have, god forbid, attempted to * gasp * regulate wall street while wall street was doing all those scams ?

    all in a country, and a political environment which have been brainwashed to the core by decades of yelps of "deregulation - you'll cost americans jobs !!" ?

    and all the while having a right wing, 'hands off business' administration looming over their head ?

    how many of you would dare attempt do actually, god forbid, do your job and try to question wall street in such an environment, and lose all future career options, even if not directly your job ? note that you would probably lose your job, had it been under bush administration, flat out.

    even the most left wing politicians were not able to dare speak against wall street, and this 'deregulation - hands off' business, until it became as clear as day that wall street actually perpetrated scams. EVEN during the period wall street was dragging all the world down, there were still 'experts', 'pundits' who were coming up in news channels and delivering opinion on how this was not a crisis and no regulation was needed and attacking whomever dare talked about any regulation. remember how peter schiff was ridiculed right 2-3 months after crisis, despite all the stuff he has said has come to pass and he was right.

    leave it aside, there are STILL some totally out of touch right wingers coming up in senate or house floor, and saying 'deregulation', even after it came out that goldman sachs actually perpetrated not 1, but 5 different kinds of scam in one mortgage backed hedge fund.

    so, tell me, what would you do in such an environment, if you were them ?

    you would watch porn. or play games. because, noone who put you there, wanted you to do your job.

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:42PM (#31958726)

    that "Fanny May" was not a porn star.

  • Distraction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:45PM (#31958766) Journal

    Sheila Bair hasn't enforced the (non-discretionary) Prompt Corrective Action [market-ticker.org] law on any of the largest TBTF banks.

    Henry Paulson lobbied for the repeal of the last vestiges of Glass-Steagall while he worked for Goldman Sachs and then committed extortion by threatening Congress with martial law [youtube.com] unless they handed over $700 billion to a group of unapprehended felons.

    The FBI warned about about an epidemic of mortgage fraud back in 2004 [cnn.com] yet the last two administrations have not indicted a single major player in the industry.

    But by all means, ignore them and pay attention to the small fry browsing porn.

  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:51PM (#31958870) Homepage Journal

    Mr. Lippman: It's come to my attention that you and the cleaning woman have engaged in sexual intercourse on the desk in your office. Is that correct?
    George Costanza: Who said that?
    Mr. Lippman: She did.
    George Costanza: [pause] Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorence on this thing, because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing is frowned upon... you know, cause I've worked in a lot of offices, and I tell you, people do that all the time.
    Mr. Lippman: You're fired!
    George Costanza: Well, you didn't have to say it like that.

  • by dhaines (323241) on Friday April 23, 2010 @03:09PM (#31959124)
    Interesting that this years-old story rears up now, when the SEC is suing Goldman and the administration is pushing financial industry reform.

    Sounds like there certainly was (is?) a porn problem at SEC. Convenient that is was such a non-story, until needed [propublica.org].
  • by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:00PM (#31960642) Journal

    By giving people a false sense of security, the SEC keeps people from even making the barest attempt at due diligence before handing over their money to the Bernie Madoffs of the world. If you're going to delegate this responsibility to anyone, it should be to a private agency that has something to lose if they fuck up, not to a bureaucracy which will in all likelihood get a budget increase after a major failure.

    -jcr

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