Gambling and attempts to ‘go dark’ were at the top of the list of rejected web use on mobile devices at the Department of Health and Social Care in 2020.
Online betting was the most denied access request, with more than 2,000 detections in figures disclosed to the Metro newspaper. The temptation to gamble was followed by 724 clicks for anonymiser tools that try and make internet activity untraceable, and there were 406 requests for peer-to-peer file sharing sites.
The filtering system at the Department of Health and Social Care also rejected 239 attempts to access malicious or spyware sites and 135 requests for explicit content. This long list also includes 186 tries at logging into ‘tasteless’ content and 126 of material that could be deemed ‘illegal or questionable’. All this data was released under the Freedom of Information Act. There were also 15 searches concerning weapons and seven related to illegal drugs. Gambling topped the lot, though, with 2,081 requests in 2020, up from 94 in the period between June and December 2019, which was the only other timeframe released by the department. According to data from the department, there were no attempts to access explicit content in the seven months given for 2019.
Overall, there were 4,035 access attempts blocked by the department’s filtering system in 2020. It was revealed in April 2021 that there were more than 8,000 clicks to log on to banned web pages made from within the Cabinet Office.
In response to this data release, the Department of Health had this to say in a statement: “it does not have an accurate breakdown of figures from laptops’ and it did not answer the question of how many attempts had been successful. The data also contained the caveat that some figures include incorrectly categorised hits for legitimate sites.”
The statement goes on to say: “We do not investigate who was behind the attempt as they are identified in the reporting system.
‘We do ensure that any genuine cases of violations of our Acceptable Usage Policy for IT are escalated through the appropriate line manager chain even as these are unsuccessful attempts.”