Blogs Banned By Interior Department

Baron Bodissey passes on word that the Department of the Interior is blocking numerous conservative blogs–but oddly not the most prominent liberal blogs–with filtering software.

It may well be just a poorly managed effort to restrict DOI workers from reading non-work-related sites while at the office, like the hamhanded effort by Kentucky a few months back. Still, it’s rather strange that they haven’t managed to filter out DailyKos, Eschaton, and other prominent liberal sites as part of their initial rollout.

UPDATE: Eric Scheie makes a good point:

Aside from the issue of blocking access to conservative or libertarian sites while allowing liberal or socialist ones, I’m wondering about the goal here. If it is to discourage employees wasting time on the job, then why allow access to any news sites at all? I’d like to know whether the Interior Department blocks yahoo news, the New York Times, the Drudge Report, and the Raw Story. If they don’t, I’d wonder why; should employees be reading news? And if they should (or if they are allowed to), then what about analysis and opinion? Every major news site offers the latter in addition to news — as do many blogs. The only common distinction is is that the latter tend to be less widely read than the former. Isn’t it an editorial judgment (a content based one) to allow discrimination based on the economic value of the publisher?

Kevin Aylward, an IT specialist whose own blog is on the banned list, is pretty sure it’s an IT snafu rather than an ideological crusade. He cites a recent AP report noting that, “Interior Department employees aren’t just using their computers to oversee parks and wildlife, an investigation found. They’re spending thousands of hours a week visiting shopping, sex and gambling Web sites.” They’re likely just taking the standard bureaucratic action, trying to swat a gnat with a sledgehammer.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. madmatt says:

    maybe it is all the hate speech that other right wing sites produce that is getting them banned!

  2. Anderson says:

    Baron Bodissey” is such a great name for a blogger, kook or not.

  3. Soa says:

    What is blocking. Who wrote the program?

  4. legion says:

    Every year, for at least the last 3 or 4 years, I will come in one morning to find that all sports sites (ESPN, SI, NFL.com, etc.) are blocked. One assumes it’s because theyre clearly not work-related.

    Without exception, the sites are all unblocked within the week.

    I reiterate, this happens _every year_.

    So it may not be an IT snafu, it may just be someone (either in IT or an exec above IT) with their own work-time crusade to run…

  5. Triumph says:

    I bet there are some holdovers from the Clinton administration who are responsible for this. They are likely getting money from Soros to derail Bush’s interior policies.

  6. Jim Jones says:

    They don’t block liberals sites because all the liberals have been purged. They’re blocking sites that traffic logs show to be actual wastes of time.

  7. Kent G. Budge says:

    The netnanny at my workplace, a DoE laboratory, blocked Wikipedia for about a week. The category under which it was blocked was “GPORN” which I think means “general pornography.”

    Now, there are some Wikipedia articles that are arguably pornographic. And Wikipedia as a whole is of very mixed reliability (as has been discussed here before.) But it can be a useful starting place for research on a technical topic — the technical articles, in my experience, being better than average — and blocking the whole of Wikipedia was just a flabbergasting move.

    Access was restored in a few days, and no explanation was ever offered. Jim Jones presents an interesting hypothesis: It was blocked because it was accessed a lot.

    It’s no wonder Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory ws renamed Los Alamos National Laboratory (back under the Carter administration.) Science is secondary. [/bitter]

  8. Anderson says:

    Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory ws renamed Los Alamos National Laboratory

    Maybe someone realized that “Scientific Laboratory” was, you know, redundant?

  9. Bithead says:

    I am also in IT support. Have been for eighteen years, now. my normal response to this kind of thing, is to say don’t attribute to malice what could be as easily attributed to stupidity. Most peple simply don’t understand how this stuff works. My guess would be, that if they threw blocks on those particular sites, it’s because those particular sites were giving the largest amount of, shall we say, unproductive traffic. With that in play, one might easily conclude that the reason Liberal sites were not being blocked, is because they were not being visited, in nearly the numbers.

    However; that said; there’s been a large trend for this kind of thing lately, and not just within the government. Witness the business with YouTube banning Michelle Malkin for example. Or the Zuckers… and then claiming they don’t know how that happened. I fully anticipate trends like this to continue as we get closer to the 08 election.

  10. Kent G. Budge says:

    Maybe someone realized that “Scientific Laboratory” was, you know, redundant?

    Not at all. There are such things as engineering laboratories and economics laboratories. While all have some scientific flavor, I think the distinction is meaningful.