Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Response to "TSA to Block Controversial Opinion on the Web"

Our IT department recently sent out an internal memo about TSA's efforts to improve our information security and prevent violations to TSA's acceptable use policy for personal use of government computers. The memo made its way to members of the media and now many are asking why TSA blocks "controversial opinion?" Well, just as many other government entities and corporations, TSA uses a security technology that limits access to certain categories of websites that are known to pose an increased security risk or violate the acceptable use policy for government computers. "Controversial opinion" is one of many of those categories. This category is an IT software catch-all phrase used to describe sites that may pose a security risk or violate the acceptable use policy, such as sites that promote destructive behavior to one's self or others. After taking a closer look, TSA determined this category may contain some sites that do not violate our acceptable use policy. This category is no longer being considered for implementation. However, employees will still need to avoid those sites that do violate TSA's acceptable use policy while using government computers. TSA employees can access any websites required for purposes of performing their job functions, and if they lose access to something they need, the access can be restored by contacting TSA's Help Desk.

TSA does not block access to critical commentary about the organization. Take a look at the comments on this blog and you'll clearly see that we allow critical commentary. This isn't a case of TSA blocking controversial opinions. Our intent is not, and never has been, to limit our employees' ability to access controversial opinions.