Civil servants at the UK's Ministry of Defence are spending a large part of their surfing time gazing at online shopping and news websites, the red-faced government department has admitted.
In a recent Freedom of Information response, the MoD 'fessed up that the top two most-visited web domains across its networks are those for the Daily Mail website and Amazon.
For the years 2016 to 2019 inclusive, Mail Online and Amazon.com were the most common websites accessed from the ministry's IT networks, excluding search engines and departmental intranet pages.
Third place was variously occupied by the Daily Telegraph, the Independent and "msm.com", which appears to be a typo for Microsoft's news website, msn.com.
Embarrassed civil servants insisted that the methodology didn't prove that gossip-driven celeb news and Jeff Bezos' online souk were the MoD's main online focus, insisting that "larger, more complex home pages will have inflated figures when measured by HTTP request".
"So it therefore cannot be concluded from this data alone that the Daily Mail website is the most visited site at the Ministry of Defence," a valiant, if rather forlorn, spokesman insisted in the FoI response letter, which the government department published this week.
Taxpayers might wonder why they're paying for MoD people to goof off looking at the Sidebar of Shame while filling their homes with cheap consumer tat. In fairness, even the most dedicated and conscientious servant of his country sometimes needs a break from things like ultra-dense academic reports about the level of public understanding of Britain's global strategic partnerships.
Especially when the latter gets reduced to "calls to bring back national service" instead of its core point that folk have all but given up paying attention to defence and foreign policy because central government fears the effects of public opinion.
You can't begrudge the poor souls wanting to read about the woes of Z-listers on the world's biggest English-language news website as an antidote to that sort of thing. Desperate times call for desperate measures: even Amazon has pledged to put the majority of its latest quarterly profits into COVID-19 mitigation measures. ®