Archive for Obama administration

REVERSAL ON: TSA to Block “Controversial Opinion” on the Web

Posted in free speech, Internet, Net Neutrality with tags , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2010 by saynsumthn

CBS: TSA Reverses “Controversial Opinion” Web Policy

Responding to a story first reported by CBS News on Saturday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today said it, “uses a security technology to limit access to categories of web sites that pose an increased security risk. TSA does not block access to critical commentary about the organization…”

According to an internal email obtained by CBS News, the TSA implemented a new policy blocking its employees from accessing any websites that contain a “controversial opinion” on work computers.

“This policy is terrible,” said Louis Maltby, President of the National Workrights Institute, a non-profit group that advocates for workplace rights. Maltby points out that anything on the internet could be deemed controversial and if blocked, in some cases, could cross the line of violating a worker’s right to information.

Employees of the TSA, responsible for nation’s airport security, were informed of the new policy Friday in an internal memo. The memo states that websites with a “controversial opinion” are “inappropriate for government access” in addition to any websites that have “Chat/Messaging”, “Criminal activity”, “Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content” and “Gaming” – all of which are now being blocked.

In response, the TSA sent the following statement to CBS News Tuesday:

TSA routinely makes improvements to our information technology systems to stay ahead of evolving cyber threats to keep our systems secure. As part of this continued effort, TSA uses a security technology to limit access to categories of web sites that pose an increased security risk. TSA does not block access to critical commentary about the organization and in fact expressly created the TSA IdeaFactory and the TSA Blog to promote diverse opinions. TSA employees will be able to access web sites required for work purposes.”

In additon, a TSA spokesperson says the “TSA Blog was founded in 2008 to engage the public in an open dialogue and is open to both the public and employees.”

Original Report:

**Updated Blog 8:20 pm, 7/6/10: TSA Reverses “Controversial Opinion” Web Policy (ABOVE)
**Updated 7/6/10 with TSA response. Read the blog here.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is blocking certain websites from the federal agency’s computers, including halting access by staffers to any Internet pages that contain a “controversial opinion,” according to an internal email obtained by CBS News.
The email was sent to all TSA employees from the Office of Information Technology on Friday afternoon.
It states that as of July 1, TSA employees will no longer be allowed to access five categories of websites that have been deemed “inappropriate for government access.”
The categories include:
??? Chat/Messaging
??? Controversial opinion
??? Criminal activity
??? Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content
??? Gaming
The email does not specify how the TSA will determine if a website expresses a “controversial opinion.”
There is also no explanation as to why controversial opinions are being blocked, although the email stated that some of the restricted websites violate the Employee Responsibilities and Conduct policy.
The TSA did not return calls seeking comment by publication time.