Sunday, April 08, 2007

Dallas County blocks workers access to blogs?

UPDATE: A commenter reports that The Great Dallas Blog Ban has been lifted! Dallas County employees, let me know if you're still having trouble accessing Grits and other blogs from work. NUTHER UPDATE: Nope, nothing's changed. A reader emails:
The Great Dallas Blog Ban is still very much in effect. As I understand it all county employees are being taken to "level 1" status with heavy restrictions on their internet access. To lessen the restrictions employees have to submit their reasoning for the access to their boss and their boss has to submit the endorsed request to the County Commissioner's Court. Seems like much ado about nothing to me to go to all this trouble to block access!
Original post:

According to The Wretched of the Earth, Dallas County has blocked access to most blogs that public defender regularly reads, including Grits! Prosecutors, he said, are barred from the same websites. I responded in the comments:
I know county officials who read Grits and other blogs who consider it part of their job, especially for Grits, e.g., on jail overcrowding and legislative stuff. (A recent Grits site survey found 38.5% of readers were govt workers and 53% read primarily for "professional" reasons.) There's a lot of material on blogs for lawyers, by lawyers, etc..

That really sucks. Who is responsible for this policy?
With half Grits readers here for "professional" reasons, I fancy blogs may actually help some employees with their work. For others it would waste time, but so does email, and anyway it doesn't sound like that's the (stated) motivation. I don't think what I'll heretofore call the Great Dallas Blog Ban is a very smart idea.

What do y'all think? Should government block its employees' access to blogs?

FOLLOWUP: The source of The Great Dallas Blog Ban: John Wiley Price.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would love to know who made the decision to block the blogs. Then I would like to hear the reason.

Gideon said...

My work had blocked all blogs a while ago and then recently, all of a sudden, they were accessible again. Comment pages are still blocked, though.

Curtis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Curtis said...

I read your blog, and a couple others, every morning. I consider them informative for my job with the state. It only takes a couple minutes but I'm able to be a better informed attorney. Thankfully, I haven't been banned from reading them.

Anonymous said...

I think it stinks. You can read your bank statement, pay your bills, but can't keep up with what's going on on and off the media radar. Maybe they don't like what's being written...Nah!

sunray's wench said...

Its actually common practice over here for employers over a certain size to restrict web access to the employees while on work time. I dont think the folks in Dallas can possibly tell anyone what to view or respond to in their own personal time on thier own computers or in an internet cafe.

Anonymous said...

Dallas, the city, used to have the reputation as being one of the most sophisticated, cosmopolitan places on the planet. I find it downright spooky how Dallas, the county appears to be becoming slowly Orwellian, bit by bit....

Anonymous said...

I do not know if "Grits" had an impact or not, but I am responsding to you via my office in Dallas county now. thanks Grits !!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

On the reason, here's what Wretched said: "The county's IT dept says the big brother tactics are necessary because viruses from outside email have been bringing the server down. Of course that's no reason to block Blogger, blogs, news, sports, etc. And of course - at least so far - they haven't blocked outside email."

Sunray, part of my goal at Grits is to make the blog a must-read source for people who work on Texas criminal justice policy, so those who can't access it miss out on information that often isn't available anywhere else. And Gideon, as for comments, a lot of useful information gets added there.

I think it's a bad idea that fails to grok how information moves in the modern world, putting county workers at a needless disadvantage in many respects.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Cool, after I posted I saw anon@7:22 say Dallas Co employees have regained access to blogs! Hope that stays true.

800 pound gorilla said...

Someone said that Dallas had a reputation for being sophisticated and cosmopolitan. They never got hauled to the police station for driving home late from work and listening to racist diatribe from the city police who thought George Wallace was the cat's pajamas.
Blogs are banned because the authors bring out many pivotal truths that change the dynamics of social and political debate. My local school board not only refuses to teach one pivotal truth, there is not even a public record that they had been repeatedly advised of that truth. We can't make dissidents disappear in this country - yet. But we can erase those comments from the public dialog and restrict access to pivotal truths that would change the dynamic of public discussion. Long live Chairman Mao! His legacy lives on with modern day authoritarians in this country.

sunray's wench said...

Grits, I understand your goals, I just think most people have access to the internet away from their work places these days, and that access is none of thier employer's business.

I dont read your blog at work, I check it first thing in the morning while I eat breakfast and then occasionally in the evening. Granted, I dont work in Dallas though.

Anonymous said...

There is currently litigation in Kentucky because the state blocked certain (Democratic leaning -- see bluegrassreports.org, one of the plaintiffs, for details) blogs from being read by state employees. I can't help but be curious whether all blogs are being blocked in Dallas or just certain ones.

Anonymous said...

It's the personal blogs through the blog domains that are blocked. One can still read DailyKos, Huffington Post, etc....for now

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Great, so Grits, which is tightly focused on Texas criminal justice policy, is excluded for PDs, prosecutors and jail officials, but the Daily Kos' partisan screeds are still available. That makes a lot of sense.