Back in August, I wrote (here and here) about Anderson County’s internet filtering of all computers within the courthouse. At the time, my primary objection was that the filtering was (and still is) selective — not based on appropriate content, but more along the lines of political thought.
Today, I learned that it’s actually hindering job performance in some cases. An employee whose primary responsibility deals with overseeing the status and progress of children who are involved with the legal system, was attempting to access the legislative website of our congressman, Zach Wamp. The employee knew that there was a paper there with information needed to better perform the job at hand.
The legislative site was blocked by the County’s filtering software.
Later, the same employee keyed in another well-known URL inadvertently using the wrong suffix (you know — dot-com instead of dot-org or dot-gov), and a full-fledged porn site popped up on the screen. Unfiltered.
* * * * *
Content filters don’t work very well. There are instances — in schools, for example — where it’s mandatory (i.e., required by the federal government as a condition of receiving e-rate funds) to have some filtering in place, but in the workplace, it’s just as likely to hinder productivity. What would be far more useful is a tracking system so that it’s possible to see the sites where employees are spending their time. If recreational web surfing is a problem, deal with the problem.
That just makes too much sense for government, though.