Bloggers take issue with Interior ban

Excessive Indulgences

In an effort to tighten security at the Interior Department, W. Hord Tipton, Interior’s chief information officer, declared a number of Web sites verboten. Some of the million-plus banned sites include old standbys of Internet debauchery: gambling, shopping, pornography and dating.

However, Interior's crosshairs now sit on a new Web target: blogs, which the department has banned.

Interior banned blogs mostly because of fears of information leaks and the inability to know who is writing a particular blog.

“Blogs just scare the pants off me, particularly when Interior people want to launch blogs and take ownership of those types of things.” Tipton said. “We don't allow people to go to blogs unless we know where they are, who they are and what have you.”

But bloggers are fighting back. The ban caused “the biggest firestorm that I've seen in four years,” Tipton said today at a breakfast event of the Bethesda, Md., chapter of AFCEA International.

To protest, one blogger created an Interior logo with barbed wire crisscrossing the department’s iconic buffalo emblem and a large gold ribbon with “BANNED!” emblazoned on it.

“These bloggers are a pretty vicious group,” Tipton said, jokingly.

The Web browsing crackdown follows an Interior inspector general report that found widespread misuse of the Internet during work hours. A review of one week's worth of logs revealed more than 4,732 entries related to gambling and pornography, the report states.

Interior responded by installing an appliance at the agency's gateway that splits sites into 123 content categories, and then bans sites based on those categories. Individual sites can be appealed, although Tipton said he could think of only about 100 sites that have been removed from the ban.

He also detailed the agency's efforts to limit instant messaging. Interior employees can use IBM Lotus Notes for personal, securely monitored IM.

However, the new version of Lotus Notes released Oct. 11 includes integrated blogging capabilities.

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