LA Times Doesn't Trust Reporters To Surf Web Safely

from the no-unfettered-access dept

Reasonable people can disagree about the wisdom of placing web filters on school computers, though the fact is they don't work, and it would be more effective to just teach kids about good judgment. Apparently, some newspapers are grapping with the same issue as it's been revealed that the LA Times also cordons off some sites from its employees. And it's not just porn that Times reporters are barred from. The paper even prevents access to a site that tells people how to get past web filters. It seems absurd that reporters, who often need to go to the web to research stories, face restricted web usage, and more importantly that they're not trusted with their web surfing. If any LA Times reporters are still looking for information on outsmarting filters, they should just ask the nearest high-schooler, who has probably figured it out long ago.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Jon Healey, Jun 19th, 2006 @ 4:28pm

    It's not about trust

    If you operated a sprawling and expensive corporate computer network that was absolutely critical to the success of your company, would you let your employees anywhere near sites that were infamous for malware?
    I'm flattered by your assumption that reporters are more tech-savvy than the average person, but we're not. Besides, even careful Web users can be victimized. If a reporter *really* has to go to a porn site or a p2p network or something of that ilk, he/she can use a machine that's off the network and outside the firewall. Otherwise, he/she is just putting tomorrow's newspaper at risk.

     

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  2.  
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    Michael Vilain, Jun 19th, 2006 @ 5:34pm

    Re: The problem...

    This isn't unheard of. A friend works for HP and they filter out many sites, like Craigslist, Yahoo, even Google. Management has concented to allowing people access to Craigslist from 12noon to 1pm.

     

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  3.  
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    charlie potatoes, Jun 19th, 2006 @ 6:26pm

    the problem

    just curious, but do they allow them to use the spell checker function?

     

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  4.  
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    Jason, Jun 19th, 2006 @ 6:41pm

    Re: Re: The problem...

    A friend works for HP and they filter out many sites, like Craigslist, Yahoo, even Google.

    Beg pardon? I work for HP and can access Craigslist, Yahoo and Google just fine. I don't know where you're getting your information.

    The only filtering I've ever run across at work is they have filtered out "mp3", but it was never even remotely effective. For example, for a time, RollingStone.com posted all of their images for their website in a subdirectory of a subdirectory etc. etc. etc. and somewhere in there was an "/mp3/". Well, at work, the browser would choke on that. But if you were to Google "mp3" you could pull up virtually any site (apart from mp3.com).

    Generally, if you do what you're supposed to and not waste a ton of time on the web, you should be ok. That is, if you work for a company that actually trusts their employees.

     

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  5.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 19th, 2006 @ 7:08pm

    Re: Re: The problem...

    This isn't unheard of. A friend works for HP and they filter out many sites, like Craigslist, Yahoo, even Google.

    Yes, we recognize that plenty of companies use web filters. The issue though, is using web filters for *reporters* who often need to access all sorts of sites for work purposes.

     

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  6.  
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    H.R.WorkerBee, Jun 19th, 2006 @ 9:04pm

    It's all because of HR

    Reporters are a tiny minority of Times staff, if a reporter can justify it for work, they can get unfettered access.

    I know the (former) Los Angeles Times employee who set this up, and it's not as if the Times *wanted* to do the nanny thing for their employees... the way I hear it, the human resources bigwigs got one complaint too many about boobies during work hours and "something" had to be done.

    Never heard rumor of anybody being fired from there after being caught by the filter, plus it errs on the side of permissiveness, doesn't even block BoingBoing.

     

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  7.  
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    moe, Jun 19th, 2006 @ 11:14pm

    It's may be more cut & dry than you think ...

    Websense is probably the biggest, or at least most popular, webfilter system out there. I'm sure there are different options you can order, but basically Websense just maintains a huge -- HUGE -- database of websites and their associated categories (sex, gambling, video, etc). It's almost an "all or none" solution - you pick the categories to restrict and download the appropriate database.

    And, as someone else mentioned, reporters aren't the only employees. I'd wager that alot of the reporters probably work from alternate locations without webfilters, too.

     

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  8.  
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    Sean Feeney, Jun 19th, 2006 @ 11:31pm

    Re: Re: The problem...

    Who the hell still uses craigslist? lol

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2006 @ 5:37am

    I work in the corporate office of a bank and we have filtering software looming over out net access as well. It can be stunning how much time can be wasted on surfing the web. Not only is time lost but as someone already mentioned there's the potential of being infected with malicious software. So even if the thing in D.C. (I think it was in D.C) where the info on war veterans was on stolen laptop didnt happen I'm sure one can imagine the dangers of a bank's network being infected with malicious software.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2006 @ 12:07pm

    Re: It's not about trust

    If a reporter *really* has to go to a porn site or a p2p network or something of that ilk, he/she can use a machine that's off the network and outside the firewall.
    Oh really? And just how do reporters go about getting that kind of connection installed at their desks? Yeah. Thought so.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2006 @ 12:11pm

    Re: the problem

    How about a "special" spell checker that automatically deletes controversial stories? That should be a good match with the web filters.

     

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  12.  
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    Stimpson, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 6:53pm

    While I can see the point of the author of this post, it's worth noting that big organizations need to secure their network, and denying access to sites that have instructions on how to get past web filters is part of that process.

     

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