Tsk, Tsk: Report Says Congressional Computers Downloaded Pirated TV Shows, Movies

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Jan. 17 2013 6:02 PM

Tsk, Tsk: Report Says Congressional Computers Downloaded Pirated TV Shows, Movies

The Rayburn House Office Building

Photograph by RebelAt at en.wikipedia.

You would be hard-pressed to find a member of Congress who would say publicly that it’s OK to illegally download TV shows and movies. But a report suggests that congressional computers have been used to torrent films like The Cabin in the Woods, The Queen of Versailles, and Bad Santa as well as episodes of 30 Rock, Dexter, and an Australian soap opera called Home and Away.

ScanEye, which tracks torrent activity like illegal downloads, recently shared its findings with U.S. News and World Report’s Whispers blog. The 10-page document lists 56 torrents downloaded in October and November, along with IP addresses that Whispers says are assigned to congressional offices. “The report does not include IP addresses associated with every congressional office, so the number of illegal downloads may be higher,” Elizabeth Flock wrote on Whispers.


Of course, this doesn’t mean that members of Congress are themselves downloading CSI: NY for some lunchtime viewing—it’s their staffers, in all likelihood. Still, as the Guardian puts it, “The report demonstrates that even though Congress has found itself at the forefront of measures to stop piracy, including the much-maligned Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa), its staff do not always follow the legislators' lead.” If you can’t keep your own networks clean, how can you expect to police the rest of the Internet?

It’s not even the first time that this has happened: In 2011, as Whispers points out, TorrentFreak reported that congressional offices were downloading pirated content, even as lawmakers were writing SOPA.

Perhaps they were just doing research?

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. 


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