US house passes bill banning access to porn from federal computers

The bill aims to address the growing problem of employees using government computers to access porn

US Capitol

The U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Credit: Elizabeth Heichler

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that would prohibit employees from accessing pornographic or explicit websites from federal computers, unless it meets an investigative objective.

The legislation, H.R. 901, was passed on Thursday morning.

The bill, called Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act, was recommended by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to which the house had referred the legislation.

In September 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Environmental Information informed the EPA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) that an employee had been viewing pornography at work. The employee was caught viewing pornography when the OIG went to investigate him at his office, and he subsequently told the OIG that he viewed pornography for an average of 2-6 hours a day while at work.

The employee was also found to have about 20,000 adult pornographic images on his government-issued laptop, according to a report submitted by Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, who is chairman of the house Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

There have been other instances of employees accessing pornography across the federal government, which are evidence for the need for action, according to the report.

The bill directs the Office of Management and Budget to issue guidelines that prohibit the access of a pornographic or other explicit website from a federal computer. It allows an exception to the prohibition if the computer is used for an investigative purpose that requires accessing a pornographic website.

The legislation banning porn might never become law, however, as it has been bundled with other legislation that the White House has threatened to veto.

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