Scottish Government devices that browsed pornographic websites: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

  1. Please provide me with the number of times PC's, Laptop, mobile phones and tablets using the Scottish Government's Internet have browsed pornographic websites.
  2. Please also provide me with the number of times attempts to access such websites were blocked?

I understand you only store this data for the last six months, so please make this as recent as possible


  1. The Scottish Government utilises industry leading firewall and perimeter security technology to categorise websites and to either allow or block access to those categories accordingly. Access to certain categories is entirely blocked from all Scottish Government devices. This covers all internal and external Scottish Government network access and blocks not only direct access attempts to prohibited websites, but also indirect access or referrals from other websites that are not blocked. The blocked category list includes all websites classified as pornographic. As such, there were zero connections made to websites categorised as "pornography".

    The Scottish Government does have a policy of retaining every instance of internet access by all staff. This generates vast amounts of web access log data. The amount of data generated is so large, it has to be archived, compressed and backup up on a monthly basis to ensure that retaining it for audit purposes remains cost effective.
  2. The cost of retrieving and analysing such a large volume of data, then extrapolating out the logs for an entire blocked category would exceed the limit set by Section 12 of FOISA. Under Section 12 of FOISA, public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600. In this instance, the cost of retrieving, examining and reporting on the volumes of data required to produce an accurate response would exceed this cost limit. You may, however, wish to consider reducing the scope of your request, perhaps limiting it to certain specifically named websites, in order that the costs can be brought below £600.

About FOI

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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