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Sep 2, 2010

Nile’s porn excuse doesn’t hold water

We shouldn't be surprised that Christian Democrat leader Fred Nile was fingered as the Legislative Council’s biggest accessor of porn. US research has shown that social conservatives are the heaviest consumers of online pornography.

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NSW Ports Minister Paul McLeay shouldn’t be surprised he was caught accessing – such a delightfully non-judgemental word – pornography via his parliamentary computer. Nor should we be surprised that Christian Democrat leader Fred Nile was fingered as the Legislative Council’s biggest accessor of porn.

Organisations routinely log web access to detect misuse of their networks. Systems administrators routinely conduct audits to investigate suspicions of fraud, breach of confidentiality, excessive use of work computers for private use or just to find out who’s hogging the bandwidth. I’ve done them myself, and “adult material” turns up nearly every time.

The NSW government’s Protocol for Acceptable Use of the Internet and Electronic Mail bans the use of government computers for “intentionally transmitting, communicating or accessing pornographic or sexually explicit material, images, text or other offensive material”. While these rules may not apply to MPs — the Department of Parliamentary Services didn’t reply by Crikey’s deadline — a politician would have to be very stupid indeed not to understand the inevitable fallout from being caught.

Nile claims the 200,000 suspect hits recorded under his login were his staff researching the Australian Sex Party and the proposed internet filter. Staffer David Copeland reportedly confirms this. But this raises further questions.

That figure of 200,000 could well be a “hit” for every element on a web page, and web pages typically have dozens of elements such as graphics, style sheets and hidden scripts. Even so, that still represents thousands of pages.

Just how much “research” do you need to do, how many pages do you need to look at, to determine that there’s — gosh! — porn on the internets?

Why couldn’t Nile just get the Parliamentary Library to hand him one of the excellent reports on pornography that already exist, such as The Porn Report by Alan McKee, Kath Albury and Catharine Lumby?

Most importantly of all, why was Copeland using Nile’s login rather than his own? That in itself is a breach of security protocols. In many commercial organisations it’s a sackable offence.

But as I said, this is all unsurprising…

US research has shown that social conservatives are the heaviest consumers of online pornography. Benjamin Edelman at Harvard Business School obtained anonymous credit-card receipts from a major online adult entertainment provider and factored in differences in broadband access between states.

“Residents of 27 states that passed laws banning gay marriages boasted 11% more porn subscribers than states that don’t explicitly restrict gay marriage,” reported New Scientist. “States where a majority of residents agreed with the statement ‘I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage,’ bought 3.6 more subscriptions per thousand people than states where a majority disagreed.”

The word is “repressed”, I think.

Stilgherrian —

Stilgherrian

Technology writer and broadcaster

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21 comments

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21 thoughts on “Nile’s porn excuse doesn’t hold water

  1. Stilgherrian

    @Chris Johnson: I’d be interested in knowing the background to you seeing the contents of Rev Nile’s briefcase. Do feel free to email me stil@stilgherrian.com, with confidentiality kept if required.

  2. David Sanderson

    Perhaps we will discover that Nile’s favourite ‘adult’ site is one with images of gay men being beaten and begging their ‘master’ for mercy.

    A sexual obsession in tune with his political one.

  3. Stilgherrian

    There is more to this story. I will have an update in today’s Crikey email.

  4. zut alors

    “Most importantly of all, why was Copeland using Nile’s login rather than his own?”

    That is the most cogent point. It is illogical that a staff member would always need to use their employer’s login, especially if a significant part of their role was to conduct research.

    Nor do I understand why such research is necessary – we all know there are websites rife with salacious images. One does not need to see something to argue a case against it. For example, we do not need to see images of violence to know it is anti-social.

  5. harrybelbarry

    Maybe he needs some help with research?

  6. Flower

    Funny that about Freddie’s protests. I once worked in a Minister’s office and no staff member had access to the Minister’s computer or the details of his login.

    And just how many staff members is a NSW Party leader allocated that so few could rack up so many hits? Um…….has Freddie been caught with his pants down?

  7. BarryR

    Maybe his real name is Fred D Nile

  8. John

    Fred Nile told a press conference today:

    “The staffers only needed a ‘few seconds’ on each site to ascertain the type of material it contained and did not watch entire films or movies.”

    To paraphrase:

    “Right,” said Fred, “Just a quickie jerk off
    Finger up your arse and steady as you go.
    Don’t get caught in flagrante delicto
    That will get us nowhere.”
    And so we ran into an audit and

  9. Shermozle

    @little Eric: see I didn’t check on my work pc. If you did, you’re now on a list.

  10. Little Eric

    HotTwinksInNaziUniformsWithGoats.com is a googlewhackblatt!

  11. Michael James

    Ah, the Reverend Fred.

    A man who sat through the entirity of the movie Caligula, twice.

    The second time as he could not believe it was so bad after the first.

  12. Liz45

    @SICKOFITALL – Twenty or more years ago, a radio presenter made the same observation – it was a badly kept secret around my way???? Looks like Fred hasn’t changed his modis operandi! His attempts at trying to explain it away were pathetic. I’m not as expert as many re IT, but with my TAFE courses and experience, I knew he was talking rubbish! We’re not conned, Fred!

    @JOHN – the serious, and sad thing about what you say, is that the rest of the community have made this situation a reality, via their homophobic attitudes. A sad indictment on a bigoted and hateful society. Fred Nile lost the vote in Parlt, re same sex couples adopting kids, so that renews my faith – we’re moving forward(oops) at last!

    Incidently, a wonderful Minister of the Uniting Church called, Gordon Bradbury(Wollongong) went public on Monday in support of the Resolution, unlike Pell, Jensen and Nile plus other bigots! Gordon is a wonderful, compassionate and decent man-one of the few religious that I have any time for! I’m anti religion these days!

  13. CarlitosM

    What! “research” NOT a good enough excuse for checking out porn?!
    But then how are we to find out what you should NOT have access to?

  14. Chris Johnson

    Years ago I saw the contents of Fred’s briefcase and wondered why porn and sex aids were accoutrements to political and religious life. Since then I’ve had my own views about the so-called good Reverend – none of which recommends either of his professions.

  15. Gareth Perkins

    Elaine must ban it at home.

  16. Shermozle

    While I sure hope that it turns out Nile has been visiting HotTwinksInNaziUniformsWithGoats.com several times a day throughout his parliamentary career, I suspect the answer might end up being much more prosaic.

    Much malware uses “porn” hosting environments, so a virus infected PC could quite easily be hitting suspect domain names.

    Note to MPs: don’t use your government-supplied computer. Mobile broadband, paid by yourself, isn’t that expensive. Seriously!

  17. John

    When I was young and single and attended gay bars, I would occasionally see someone there who I previously assumed was straight. I would say hello, but sometimes they dived straight back into the closet with the lame excuse that I should not misunderstand their presence, as they were only at the bar to do research for a book they were thinking of writing.

    Sounds similar to Fred’s excuse.

    Dirty old man!

  18. sickofitall

    One of the major collectors of pornography is the Rev. he carries it around to show how disgusting and perverted it is… erm, thanks, Fred: I’m pretty aware of what’s in it…

  19. Syd Walker

    Very uncharitable of you Stig 🙂

    Accordingto veteran academic researcher Milton Diamond of the University of Hawaii “researchers have found that as pornography has increased in availability, sex crimes have either decreased or not increased.”

    http://www.hawaii.edu/PCSS/biblio/articles/2010to2014/2010-porn.html

    Maybe Fred’s office is just doing its bit to reduce sex crime in the over-excited atmosphere of the NSW Parliament, where someone seems to have put viagra in the water supply.

    Actually, I think it’s great Labor’s Legislative Council President and Fred Nile both agree that accessing pornography should not of itself be grounds for dismissal – and that thorough research requires unfiltered access to the internet. 🙂

    See “New South Wales: two sides of a sex-obsessed Parliament” at http://tiny.cc/b2xud

  20. Holden Back

    Shadenfreude : a dessert wine best served cold?

  21. David Sanderson

    “Fingered”? Red-handed maybe?

    Err, yuk.

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