SEC Ogled Porn As The Financial Crisis Unfolded! So Did You

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One SEC accountant tried to access porn 1,800 times in two weeks, another tried 16,000 times in one month. In another case, an SEC attorney spent eight hours a day looking at and downloading porn— as reported by the Associated Press and ABC News— when his disk drive was full he resorted to CDs and DVDs. Gross.

Over the last five years, the SEC has launched “33 probes of employees looking at explicit images,” according to an SEC memo obtained by the Associated Press. The bulk of those cases occurred in the last three years (with 16! in 2008—Bernie Madoff was arrested in Dec. 08), as the financial industry teetered on the brink of collapse. More than half, seventeen of the cases, included senior employees. The memo has led to a gaggle of giggle-worthy headlines like: “Did Porn Cause the Financial Crisis?,” “SEC Staffers Watched Porn, Not Wall Street,” “SEC Was Wanking Off While The Economy Crumbled,” etc.— conjuring images of rows upon rows of SEC computers tuned into porn while homeowners received foreclosure notices and Madoff victims wept. It’s certainly disturbing to hear of senior SEC officials perusing porn websites when they had a crisis on their hands, but lets be honest here, are we really that surprised? 70% of all porn access occurs during the 9am to 5pm work day (according to a Messagelabs report), and I’m not just talking about the SEC. The numbers are ugly.

Another statistic cited by Michael Leahy the author of “Porn @ Work” is a 2006 report from Comscore Media Matrix: one out of every five unique visitors to porn websites in March 2006 were logging on from a work computer. If the SEC was watching porn while the financial crisis engulfed the country, so was the rest of America, or at least a good portion of it. In fact, when you put it in perspective, 33 cases over the course of 5 years is strangely a small amount for a workplace with 4,000 workers. I’m disgusted, but I’m not raising an eyebrow.

To the SEC’s credit, it is cracking down on their employees, the SEC uses Blue Coat Secure Web Gateway (the software) and McAfee SmartFilter (the subscription) to automatically patrol their employees internet usage and spokesperson John Nestor said the spike between 2007 and 2008 (2 cases versus 16) could have more to do with the inspector general’s more aggressive posture than a rise in impropriety. Several of the offenders have been suspended or dismissed. Here is the regulatory agency’s official statement:

“As we said when this story was first reported in the media in February, every instance of inappropriate use of the Internet investigated by the Inspector General was detected by the SEC’s own surveillance and referred to the Inspector General for investigation. Each of the offending employees has been disciplined or is in the process of being disciplined. Some have already been suspended or dismissed. While any misuse of government resources is always a concern, since February we have further increased penalties. We will not tolerate the transgressions of the very few who bring discredit to their thousands of hardworking colleagues.”

(Image Source: Random Pixels And Loose Talk)

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