Thursday, August 02, 2007

BigCityLib BANNED By Federal Government!

OhMyGawd, I'm in tears! I feel like I've won an Oscar, and the wife is saying I've finally made the Big Time! As reported at The Galloping Beaver, BigCityLib Strikes Back and several other illustrious progblogs have been blocked on staff computers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada:

Not sure if anyone else has reported on this: I am a federal civil servant and (while on a break!) noticed that the Galloping Beaver, Calgary Grit and BigCityLiberal are all now blocked from government desktops (at least in my Dept - AAFC). This wasn't the case 2 wks ago.

And a bit lower down:

A quick survey around some of the other Internet comment sites and forums suggests that other progressive sites and blogs are also blocked on some government computers. The coincidence of discovering that TGB, Calgary Grit, BigCityLiberal and Bread and Roses are blocked on computers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (and some other federal government locations) is just too much to let slide by without a few words.

I agree that it can't be "adult content" that triggered the block. While B&R and this blog sometimes "work blue", and B&R is just packed with raunchy feminists (visit the site and you can almost hear Patti Smith playing in the background), Calgary Grit is probably one of the nicest guys in the sphere.

In any case, you can run but you can't hide, Stephen Harper! When this blog is finished with you, your government will be in ruins, and your philosophy in disgrace!

Update: National Newswatch has picked up the story. He's running it as a question "Grit blogs banned...?" so we look less silly if its nothing more than an IT snafu.

44 comments:

Olaf said...

BCL,

Sometimes companies ban non-business-related sites that are accessed by many and often. It's possible that it has nothing to do with your (admittedly subversive) content whatsoever, and may just be a function of your (inexplicable) popularity. :)

Scott Tribe said...

Well Olaf... we can test that theory out by having said government civil servants who alerted TGB of the ban to see if they can reach popular right-wing sites.

if they can... well... I'm writing about that right now as I type to you what I think it means.

Olaf said...

Scott,

Very true... I'd imagine that if SDA was still accessible, and this one wasn't, there must be some other explanation other than popularity. But then again, I see no good reason to have CG on the list of "banned" sites, as he's one of the most moderate "progressive" sites out there. Hardly a foul-mouthed firebrand like BCL. It was CGs inclusion that put in my mind the possibility of a popularity-based ban.

Reality Bites said...

Wonder if FreakDominion is blocked

bigcitylib said...

Olaf,

As much as I would be thrilled at the idea of being "popular", I'm lucky if I pull 300 visits a day. I severely doubt government servers are crashing from people visiting this place.

And I suspect the same applies with other other banned blogs (with the possible exception of CG). We centrist to left bloggers don't pull near the traffic of an SDA.

Olaf said...

BCL,

Fair enough, it's just a theory. The filterers at work here are a pretty fickle bunch... some obscure sites are banned while others that should be are not (like Ebay). Anyways, I'm skeptical that your banning has much to do with your anti-Harper/anti-conservative orientation (especially considering that CG is banned), although I certainly can't rule it out.

Scott Tribe said...

You're far too generous of thius government Olaf. They use RCMP as poitical police to ban reporters from a public place.. I dont put it past them to ban certain blogs of political expression that goes against what they think.

Ti-Guy said...

I'm indifferent to this until I see some better information. So far, we've got anecdotal reports of restrictions.

I'm not sure how it works with "Canada's Novel Government," but where I work, any restrictions in place are explicit and have to explained when challenged. It's all very above board.

Olaf said...

Scott,

You're far too generous of thius government Olaf. They use RCMP as poitical police to ban reporters from a public place.. I dont put it past them to ban certain blogs of political expression that goes against what they think.

It has nothing to do with being generous, I'd have the same reaction if it was a Liberal or (God forbid) an NDP government. I just don't see the point in banning someone like BCL, let alone Calgary Grit. I don't put it "past them", I just don't think they care that much. As always, I could be wrong... I think Ti-guy's right that we're all jumping the gun here a bit.

Christian Conservative said...

As a government IT guy, I regularly monitor usage, and if I see lots of visits to certain websites that appear non-work related, I'll block them. (like I blocked Facebook for one computer last week, user spending a little too much time there)

To note, I used to get regular visits from that department too, but haven't seen them in a while. Could be more of a mass block, not just Prog blogs.

Any testing done with popular Blogging Tories?

bigcitylib said...

CC,

If you don't mind: how many is "lots", and do you have to inform the user?

calgarygrit said...

Interesting...

I'd be curious to see just how many blogs are banned.

JimBobby said...

...if I see lots of visits to certain websites that appear non-work related, I'll block them.

It would seem that sites such as YouTube and Ebay would be high on the list of non-work related sites visited on company time. Do we know if these are also banned by the Ag Min?

Ti-Guy said...

As a government IT guy, I regularly monitor usage, and if I see lots of visits to certain websites that appear non-work related, I'll block them. (like I blocked Facebook for one computer last week, user spending a little too much time there)

Since you're being so upfront, can you cite what policy or explain under what authority you have to impose these restrictions?

Where I work, it's not up to the "IT Guys" to make those decisions, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Well, if I were staff and stuff was blocked, it would raise my curiousity and I would go to those blogs on my computer at home.

What happened to freedoms here in Canada - freedom of speech and all.

This is getting freakier all the time.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! I don't figger too many people wanna shed too much light on the topic of personal internet use on company time. Us self-employed time-wasters are free to spend a whole day boogin' so long as we're keepin' up with work. Employees (private or public) are bein' paid to do other things instead boogin' or operatin' an Ebay store.

I got no problem with employers clampin' down on personal web time in the workplace. I do have a problem if the clampin' down is done along political lines. No proof of that, yet.

JB

le politico said...

What it likely means is that this dude has been flagged as a heavy internet user, so the sites he visits regularly that have nothing to do with his occupation will be restricted.

If he keeps it up, sooner or later he will get a visit from his boss, human resources, and the internet police.

Now, get back to work! :)

le politico said...

Could also be that Agriculture just banned the blogspot.com web address..

Anonymous said...

Many companies ban political websites. Big deal. Cry your eyes out over your spilled milk.

But elsewhere, where's the outrage over the recent actions of the Univ. of Toronto?

Scott Tribe said...

It's a "big deal" anon. if they're banning certain politically-oriented websites, but not others of their own political affiliation ("their" being the Conservatives)

As for the blogspot theory.. that seems logical, except Bread 'n Roses is a Wordpress based site.

April Reign said...

Bread and Roses isn't actually blog based at all. Well the Front Page is and the blogs are.... but my point...is the forum isn't and that is blocked too.

And it isn't just a liberal thing cause we are everything except tory.

Saskboy said...

Congrats for hitting the big time :-)

Anonymous said...

I'll have to send in another cheque to Mr. Harper!

(Hidden Agenda item #17 - check!)

Now if only he can shut down the Communist Brainwashing Corp.

Darren Tait said...

Well, this is all conjecture.

Why doesn't this guy just call his IT department and ask why he can't access those sites anymore?

I really doubt the answer will be, "well the PMO called us and said we have to block them". Which would NEVER happen, nor would such advice be followed.

It's more likely the answer would be, "because you spend too much time surfing them, now get back to work ya git".

frank said...

Are you lefties always this paranoid???

Kingston said...

Has surfed numerous blogs on all three sides of the spectrum on a DND computer at lunch, cannot post but can read them. I do not know who in Ottawa does our blocking but sometimes they do mass block, heck for the longest time I could not even get to Canoe. All you do is email the IT guys and ask and they sort it out. Is curious how long it has been since he could get to BCL. It might be a glitch.
PS. For a long time I couldn't see SDA but then one day I tried and it worked.

JimBobby said...

PS. For a long time I couldn't see SDA but then one day I tried and it worked.

You have my condolences.

Anonymous said...

It's not censorship, it's a simple matter of common sense. Liberalism is a mental disorder, and should be treated as such. There's no good reason for anybody to be a Liberal. Look at all the money which wouldn't be stolen, the lives ruined, the people who would be working, if it weren't for Liberals.

Odie441 said...

I can access those sites from my DND work station..........and the DWAN is way more restrictive that the PS computer systemm.

Cool Blue said...

Partisan political activities are banned at PS offices PS equipment shouldn't be used for such purposes.

The PS commission rules are rather vague and open to interpretation, however, reading overtly partisan materials on PS computers, and especially posting overtly partisan comments, could be interpreted as being against PS policy.

What I'm interested in is if the title of the blog had something to do with the bannings. For example "BigCityLib" or "Blogging Tories" are obviously partisan whereas, a title like "Small Dead Animals" doesn't display a partisan bent.

Raging Ranter said...

Many web filter software packages used by businesses and government departments are "heuristic". That means they are able to "learn", based on the surfing behaviour of the individuals behind the firewall. As has already been mentioned by others, it could be nothing more than the popularity of certain progressive blogs amongst the employees of AAFC.

Given the political bent of civil servants towards the progressive side of the spectrum to begin with, it would hardly be surprising that progressive sites would be blocked by heuristic software.

This is not something that can be "tested" simply by comparing the overall popularity of right-wing vs. progressive blogs, then finding out which ones have been blocked. A blog's popularity amongst the general public is not necessarily indicative of its popularity amongst civil servants, or within a given department. (Harper's comments about the "liberal civil service" were more accurate than anyone cares to admit.)

No doubt many progressives will continue to have fun with their conspiracy theories. However, considering that the IT departments are the ones that administer the networks, and that the web filters operate for the most part without human input, it hardly seems plausible that this resulted from a directive from the top.

Ti-Guy said...

Harper's comments about the "liberal civil service" were more accurate than anyone cares to admit.

That's because "liberal" to Harper means "reality based" to everyone else.

Nice try, Flaming. Now go back to choking on your bile.

Anonymous said...

who f-ing cares. All that mattters is that free dominion is shut down!

Yeah! Kill those fuckers! Yahoo! Who's with me?

Anonymous said...

uh... hello...?

um, I just wanna say that them hickles at free dominion should be tarred an then there featherd. yup, dat wood be good eh

we need to do a atopsee on connie while she is still livin, you knwo, to get what we want, uh huh

me gots me a pitch fork an i'm ready to rape in pilahg. my peeenese i soo hard (in a homo wey of courth, so itas oK)

Anonymous said...

oh spare me anon. You are clearly insane.

Everyone knows that members of Free Domionion start their pathetic days by eating puppy sandwiches, followed by raping bunnies. Besides, why would someone perform an autopsy on Connie when there is so much interigation to go? What a clown... What kind of blog is this anyway?

Idiots eh...?

Anonymous said...

Nice try blocking my IP, dufus. Swing and a miss!

Deal with my issues or suffer the consequence.

Not so fucking easy now, is it?

Eat shit and die scum bag.

Raging Ranter said...

Ti-Guy said...

I'm indifferent to this until I see some better information. So far, we've got anecdotal reports of restrictions.

I'm not sure how it works with "Canada's Novel Government," but where I work, any restrictions in place are explicit and have to explained when challenged. It's all very above board.


Hmmm, first of all, I must congratulate you on your very sensible first paragraph. Probably the first such paragraph you've ever written. Certainly out of character.

Your second paragraph, however, is laughable. I'm not sure what kind of commune you work in, but anywhere else, whoever owns the network has the right to restrict access as they see fit.

As little as two years ago, I was a civil servant myself, and any websites that were blocked were done either by the web filter software itself, or by the IT staff. Justification was neither offered nor required. That policy was spelled out very clearly in a "reasonable use" document that was given to each employee to read and sign. The document stated, among other things, that the government reserved the right to monitor web usage, and to place restrictions on usage. My experience in the private sector has been identical.

Nice to see that you still respond impulsively and in full attack mode to anything I post. Just can't help yourself -- the OCD is still ravaging your already questionable character. Take your meds NetStalker.

Anonymous said...

All is lost.. for shame. Should we not be suckling at Connie's teet. What happened?


I feel so afraid. Hug me.

Anonymous said...

echo! echo?

k.

bigcitylib said...

RR,

Where I work, any CHANGE to staff permissions re what you are allowed to view and not view is preceeded by a whole whack of emails telling you what the new policy will be, when it will take effect, and etc.

After they've justified the policy, they don't have to ask you if they can enforce it. When they CHANGE the policy, all sorts of legwork and notification must be done. That doesn't seem to have been done here.

Anonymous said...

bigcitylib said...

RR,

Where I work, any CHANGE to staff permissions re what you are allowed to view and not view is preceeded by a whole whack of emails telling you what the new policy will be, when it will take effect, and etc.

After they've justified the policy, they don't have to ask you if they can enforce it. When they CHANGE the policy, all sorts of legwork and notification must be done. That doesn't seem to have been done here.


I'm cuming over to your place tomorrow for a visit. Put on that pretty number I like. Don't make me angry...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

echo! echo?

k.

10:22 PM


Slow down, they only need a week or two to formulate a reply. Be nice you silly fool.

Anonymous said...

I know this may seem far out there but perhaps they want you "working" while at work. I know, I know, its a novel concept for a union member to grasp.
Read all the blogs you want AT HOME! Dont' do it on my dime and my machine.

Horny Toad

Ti-Guy said...

As little as two years ago, I was a civil servant myself...

...until you were fired on a "morals" issue, I imagine.