Kentucky Agrees To Stop Selectively Blocking State Employees From Reading Critical Blogs

from the hearing-what-your-critics-say-is-a-good-thing dept

A couple of years ago, we wrote about the fact that the state of Kentucky had started blocking certain political blogs from the computers of state employees. The interesting part was that the state was only blocking blogs that were critical of state officials. The group Public Citizen filed a lawsuit saying that the selective blocking was a First Amendment violation. It looks like that issue won’t get settled in court any time soon, as a new administration in Kentucky has decided that it is changing that policy and won’t block critical sites, leading Public Citizen to drop the lawsuit.

Of course, without a court ruling, it’s now not clear if the original actions were legal — and there’s nothing to stop a future administration from reversing the policy yet again. In the meantime, what kind of politician actually thinks it’s a good thing to block out those who disagree with them rather than hear what they have to say? Talk about sticking your head in the sand…

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Comments on “Kentucky Agrees To Stop Selectively Blocking State Employees From Reading Critical Blogs”

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Thom says:

What kind of person?

The kind of person that kept his head so far up George Bush’s behind that you so two sets of teeth everytime George smiled. The kind that was so crooked he had to issue a blanket pardon for a sizeable portion of his administration to cover their crimes. The kind of person that only a bunch of dumb hillbillies could be stupid enough to have put into office.

Greg says:

That kind of person...

I completely disagree with Thom’s impression of Kentuckians thus I am worth listening to.

Also, Thom, you would do well to look into the number and circumstances of the presidential pardons issued by the “Clinton White House” in the final days of that administration.

Do note that the block list was extensive and included a great deal more then just the site(s) of the leading party’s opposition. While many are being opened back up there are still numerous sites which were/are blocked… why? People weren’t doing their work.

Jason Still (profile) says:

Re: That kind of person...

While many are being opened back up there are still numerous sites which were/are blocked… why? People weren’t doing their work.

I did some contract work for about 8 months at the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Trust me, those blocks weren’t keeping people from wasting time, they found plenty of other ways to do that.

I did about 8 hours of work in the 8 months I was in that office. The rest of the time I spent surfing the web (was easy to remote out of that network and then I could access whatever I pleased), twiddling my thumbs, and hating the fact that before they took over the project I was actually getting work done and now I was having to sit there and do nothing. There was plenty of thinking about doing stuff, talking about doing stuff, and planning to do stuff, but in 8 months time they never even got me server space to start the project, which was 3/4 done on another system before they decided to take it over and start it on a new system. It was pretty easy for me to decide that I never wanted to work for the government again.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to go to meetings and have conference calls while doing as little real work as possible it might be the place for you. As for me, I like to get shit done and move on.

I suppose that’s enough quasi-ranting from me for now.

Kevin says:

Pardon, schmardon

Also, Thom, you would do well to look into the number and circumstances of the presidential pardons issued by the “Clinton White House” in the final days of that administration

Every president issues pardons at the end of their term. That’s just the nature of the beast. I wouldn’t be surprised to see W pardon Ken Lay this December. Rarely, however, does someone have to pardon half of their own administration.

Marshall (user link) says:

Cyberpunk will live again.

It’s unfortunate that censorship is coming to America like this. There will always be battles over this sort of thing. I would recommend encrypting everything and using only trusted networks that you know aren’t being censored or blocked. Finding these network services is hard but they do exist.

Cyberpunk will live again.

Hugh Mann says:

Use your own time for political activities

Why do so many people think there is a “right” to use our employers’ tools for our personal activities?

If your employer provides a car for performing job activities, we don’t question the concept that he might prohibit that employee from running personal errands with it. Why is email or other Internet activity any different? It’s your employer’s tool, not yours. He gets to set the terms for its use.

Now, of course, a reasonable employer will likely understand that most employees will not abuse these tools if given some leeway. There’s the occasional personal phone call from the office phone, using the company car to stop at the store on the way home from work, etc. No big deal. We’re all adults, and employers who treat their employees that way will get better results. However, that doesn’t at all justify trying to claim some sort of “right” to use the employer’s tools for personal purposes.

So, if the State of Kentucky wants to block certain websites from the PCs it provides to its employees, that’s fine. Those employees can use their own PCs on their own time if they want to peruse those blocked sites. Or, if the restrictions really make folks unhappy, the state will find it hard to hire good people, and they’ll have to change their policy.


Anonymous Coward says:

Here's the deal..

As a resident of Kentucky, I can tell you the real deal. When Ernie Fletcher became governor, he put several people into positions replacing democrat with republican. This is not uncommon; however, Gov. Fletcher replaced many more people than was typical, so many people that the situation became a scandal that cost him re-election. The only reason he wasn’t prosecuted was because in Kentucky, a sitting governor has immunity. In order to prosecute, the Commonwealth’s Atty. General would have to wait until after the new governor was sworn in, and it would have cost him the opportunity to run for governor himself.

These political blogs weren’t blocked to prevent people reading them or wasting time; they were blocked to prevent people posting to them. It was spin control, pure and simple.

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