Originally published December 1 2013
Nuclear Regulatory Commission employees surf porn while on the job
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) It's something that Homer Simpson would most likely do, but he's a cartoon character and isn't even real.
Still, it is an apt comparison given Simpson's cartoon job status as an employee at a nuclear power plant.
As reported by The Washington Times, employees at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency that oversees the operations of the nation's nuclear power plants, recently managed to bypass government firewalls and access porn online with their work computers.
From the paper:
It's become tougher to surf porn on government computers after scandals, but some workers at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission managed to find ways to bypass detection software and firewalls to get the illicit content, records show.
One contract employee watched, in his words, two "porn type" Netflix movies during "downtime" on his 12-hour shift at the commission's office of information services, according to case records reviewed by The Washington Times.
Problem has not gone away
Another employee, the paper said, had repeatedly used photo-sharing website Flickr to search for porn while in the office.
And for years, a resident inspector at the nuclear agency scanned eBay looking for images of porn.
Officials investigating the cases say it doesn't appear that the porn-surfing at the NRC is as pervasive as it was in the porn scandal that rocked the Securities and Exchange Commission a couple of years ago. But the Times said that, according to investigative records, the problem has not gone away either:
Joseph McMillian, assistant inspector general for investigations, said agents hadn't been tipped off to any broader problems when they opened the investigation.
"It wasn't anything specific; it was just being proactive," he said.
According to investigators, from May 2011 to September 2012, agents with the IG's cybercrimes unit opened seven cases involving misuse of government computers. All involved pornography violations.
Agents approached one employee about 100 explicit images and videos that had been traced to his computer. The employee said he had not viewed the material, and what initially might have been considered an excuse actually turned out to be true.
Upon further investigation, officials found that a co-worker had stolen that employee's login credentials to search for pornographic materials using search terms like "busty women."
The paper said records that its reporters reviewed contained some redactions that made it impossible to learn the names or detailed job titles of employees or agency contractors who had been caught viewing or looking for porn.
The NRC has about 2,800 staff members who work at the agency's headquarters outside of Washington, D.C., in suburban Maryland.
NRC not the only federal agency whose employees surf porn at work
McMillan referred all questions about disciplining the employees to the agency but added that the inspector general's office was ultimately satisfied with the actions that were taken following the investigations.
"In six cases that The Times inquired about," the paper reported, "the agency proposed disciplinary penalties ranging from a three-day suspension to removal from the job, commission spokeswoman Holly Harrington said."
Harrington told the Times in an email: "When determining the appropriate penalty the NRC considers a number of factors, including but not limited to the nature and seriousness of the action and frequency of the action; the employee's job level; the employee's past disciplinary record; the employee's work record, including length of service; and consistency with other like or similar cases."
She also said the commission prevents and detects computer misuse in a number of ways, which include monitoring all Web traffic and blocking "specific inappropriate sites based on reputation."
The NRC is far from the only federal agency with employees having been caught surfing porn on government computers.
In 2010, the paper reported on more than two dozen employees and contractors at the Securities and Exchange Commission whose porn-surfing habits were publicized following an open-records request.
"Also that year, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, wrote to the National Science Foundation over concerns about porn-viewing inside that agency," the Times reported.
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