Thursday, June 22, 2006

A trifle high-handed

State employees in Kentucky have been banned from reading blogs:

Political bloggers have joined pornographers, casinos and hate groups on the Fletcher administration's list of Web sites that state employees are blocked from visiting.

So have blogs and Web sites dealing with entertainment, auctions and humor, and sites that could transmit computer viruses.

Political blogs were among the categories added to the list yesterday. A blog is shorthand for Web log [haven't seen that little explanation in a while--ed.].
Now, most blog readers will agree with Kentucky in lumping "bloggers," as they're known, with pornographers, casinos, hate groups and, especially, auctions (though not humor). But banning political blogs altogether? What brought that on? The Louisville Courier-Journal has a possible answer:

One political blogger in Kentucky [] said the timing is suspicious and charged the Fletcher administration has targeted his site because he is critical of the governor. On Tuesday, he ran excerpts of a New York Times story Tuesday about the state hiring investigation, which included quotes from him criticizing Fletcher.

Mark Nickolas, a Democratic blogger whose Web site is harshly critical of the Fletcher administration, said his site is important for state workers to read.

"It's phony to say a Web site like mine doesn't serve a legitimate purpose. People in government are developing policy and need to understand what's going on in the state, and they can help inform themselves of that by visiting my site," he said. "This shows the Fletcher administration's way of dealing with dissent is to censor it."

He also noted that access to sites of the political parties was not blocked. . . .

[State spokeswoman Jill Midkiff] said mainstream media sites were not blocked because they can provide state employees a broader range of news on issues that agencies may need.

Midkiff said the recent report from the state's consultant did not show state workers were visiting the sites of the Kentucky Republican and Democratic parties.

Charles Wells, executive director of the Kentucky Association of State Employees, said he did not believe state workers should visit political blogs on work time, but should be allowed to do so during breaks or lunch.

"And I don't understand why a state employee can go to the Republican Party Web site but not BluegrassReport" [they can go to the Democrats' site too] he said. "Drawing the line where they have has started another fight this administration didn't need to fight."
Here's the NYT story. Fletcher's in a heap 'a trouble.

Half-assed "research" noted

A quick and dirty look found three states' policies on employee internet use. Vermont doesn't prohibit its employees from reading blogs; neither does Virginia. And an executive order on internet use last year by Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne says nothing about blogs. The policies of all three states permit limited personal use of the internet on the employee's own time.

I thought the all-knowing and all-powerful source of state info, the National Conference of State Legislatures, would have more. But all I could find was a rundown of various legislatures' policies for their own employees, not for state employees in general. I also found a model policy on internet use that dates way back to 1997. Not good.

(via Romenesko.)

Update: Nicholas of notes today that state employees can still access right-wing blogs. Whether he tried to pull up any leftie ones, including his own, he doesn't say.

Update II: The National Conference of State Legislatures has a blog!

Update III: Yes, I know that for Drunkablog readers the exclamation point in update II is utterly superfluous.

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