Let the internets run free, bosses

Let the internets run free, bosses

Summary: The implementation of internet filters in workplaces always creates a severe disconnect between those enforcing them and those living under them. It's not surprising that the phenomenon is at its worst in parliament.

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The implementation of internet filters in workplaces always creates a severe disconnect between those enforcing them and those living under them. It's not surprising that the phenomenon is at its worst in parliament.

Prior to my illustrious debut as a journalist for ZDNet Australia in 2010, I worked for a company that was, let's just say, required to watch what the media does all of the time.

It was an incredibly bureaucratic and corporatised company, and, as you'd expect, there was a filter installed to keep those pesky employees from looking at anything they shouldn't. But it wasn't just about blocking the usual porn and gambling sites; it was about blocking any sites that the powers that be deemed irrelevant to the normal everyday work function. But working in a media organisation, the definition of "what's relevant" can be quite broad.

Often, I'd come into work at some obscenely early hour and find that legitimate news sites like Gawker were suddenly unavailable. When you have to endure monitoring Kyle & Jackie O, it's important to have all the gossip sites at your fingertips, just so you have some idea of what they're babbling on about.

Quite a number of times, I (or one of my colleagues) would email IT support to request that a certain site be unblocked. This could take hours or days, and by the time they'd assessed my request (and often denied it), the reason why I'd asked for the site to be unblocked had long since passed.

As draconian as the internet policy of my former employer was, it didn't compare to what our duly elected senators have to deal with. As we found out earlier this week, the Department of Parliamentary Services brought in a filter on the network of the Senate and staffers in October last year that blocks some 35 million websites, including all websites ending in .info.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam found that he couldn't visit websites about nuclear disarmament until he requested that the filter be unblocked.

As the US Government's ex-CIO Vivek Kundra said earlier this week, the filter stifles productivity. The time people spend trying to get around these pointless filters for work purposes is much greater than any time lost to casual internet browsing.

And besides, if we really want to visit a website, we all have smartphones now. Casual internet browsing is the new smoking break, and workers who are treated like adults by their employer and trusted with what sites they think they need to access at work are much more likely to be happy, productive little worker bees.

Topics: Censorship, IT Employment

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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6 comments
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  • The delightful irony of Senator Conroy being unable to access the ACL website due to a parliamentary filter is a dream that may yet eventuate!
    btone-c5d11
    • Agree btone, live by the sword!
      Beta-9f71a
      • LOL, -1 for saying if Conroy wants a filter it should apply to him too...

        You anti-NBN children should read the comments, not just the name of the person commenting, before you vote...
        Beta-9f71a
        • "beta" how does the NBN fit into all of this? We're talking about filters here, not the NBN. Two different things.. Seems like you're brainwashed by Conroy.
          I for one would love the NBN and it's speed benefits but I don't want the filter.
          Next time someone comments about filters, read the facts before judging us and calling us anti-NBN children". I'm an adult and I have every right make my responsible decision without the government telling me what I can or can't read.
          Pyounes-1966a
          • Yes two different topics. Glad you at least understood that Pyounes. But seems I hit a nerve?

            So the topic... you don't agree that if a filter is forced upon us that it should also apply to Conroy? I do and I received a -1 for saying so/"live by the sword".

            To clarify further and make it clear (for those wanting in comprehension)...

            "No I do not want a filter but if it is forced on us it should apply to Conroy too"!

            How's that being brainwashed by Conroy? And how on earth did you come to that conclusion?. Should I retort by suggesting you have been brainwashed by Abbott and Turnbull?

            To the second part of my comment, having been involved in many stoushes with anti-NBN children (yes children, you comprehended that ok - but I didn't mention names nor imply that of you personally, but yet you took offence) I do understand that I am dealing with irrationality and a lot of the time, ironically, political brainwashing. You know the ones who have NFI, who simply repeat the opposition/News Ltd/Jones and Co parrot fashion - white elephant, poor taxpayer/build roads, socialist monopoly, blah...

            So what does that all mean (spelling it out so you get it this time)? It means I realise the above vote probably wasn't for my comment (unless it was you who simply didn't comprehend anything I was saying, what so ever) but more for me, the Pro NBN author, from one of the erratic, childish anti- NBNers...

            Comprehende`?

            Just why TF I had to spell this out is puzzling. But regardless, please try to understand what people are saying before going off half-**** getting all emotional and making silly unfounded remarks thank you.
            Beta-9f71a
          • LOL, that wasn't an expletive, it was half-c*cked
            Beta-9f71a