A freedom of information request for MPs’ internet searches during parliamentary sittings has been rejected despite the same data having previously been provided. 

Parliament turned down the request saying it would cost €1,475 to obtain the information from third parties. 

The Office of the Speaker had handed over three months’ worth of internet searches to the house back in 2017. It is understood that at the time the collection of the data had cost less than a third of the price. 

The data handed over six years ago showed how more than a million attempts to access online sites were made from within the parliament building over three months. 

But an attempt to repeat the exercise this year, was denied.

Searches blocked by IT agency

The searches, all carried out during plenary sittings, included an attempt to access a popular porn search engine and other X-rated images. 

These were all blocked by the government’s IT agency, MITA. 

The data had given a clear picture of what some MPs got up to during debates in the house. While local news websites were popular, thousands of Facebook pages were also viewed.

At the time, Twitter was a less-frequented social media platform but still racked up about 80 access attempts.  More than 100 YouTube videos were viewed and websites streaming football matches were also in demand but were mostly blocked.

Sports news websites, such as the popular Italian Gazzetta dello Sport, also featured.

Sex forum accessed

When the allegations that former economy minister Chris Cardona had visited a brothel in Germany were raised in parliament, a sex forum was accessed via the internet service. This website details the raunchy experiences of people who claim to have frequented the brothel in question.

Cardona strongly denied visiting the establishment.

Wireless internet access in the parliament building is password-protected, although the password is given out on request. Once connected to the wireless network, users are free to browse social media sites.

Clerical staff with wired internet connections do not enjoy unfettered access, which is why a number of access attempts showed up as ‘not allowed’ in the data that had been made available to this newspaper.

A request under the Freedom of Information Act was made in 2014 and it resulted that one person had tried to access porn sites during an electrifying debate on Enemalta. The attempt was blocked.

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