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.

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Comments on “LA Times Doesn't Trust Reporters To Surf Web Safely”

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Jon Healey says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Jason says:

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, 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

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.

H.R.WorkerBee (user link) says:

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.

moe says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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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