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TSA Internally Blocking Websites With 'Controversial Opinions' 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the less-filling-tastes-great dept.
sterlingda writes "The Transportation Security Administration is blocking certain websites from the federal agency's computers, including halting access by staffers to any Internet pages that contain a 'controversial opinion,' according to an internal email obtained by CBS News. The new rules came into force on July 1, and prevent TSA employees from accessing such content, though what is deemed 'controversial opinion' is not explained."
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TSA Internally Blocking Websites With 'Controversial Opinions'

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  • This isn't news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:15PM (#32802784)

    The TSA can filter websites from their work computers, just like every other organization in the world with office drones of their own. The fact that they include "controversial" material (as well as gaming and chat sites) doesn't preclude the employees from going home and reading it on their own time on their own computers.

    • Re:This isn't news (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mangu (126918) on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:33PM (#32802938)

      It reminds me of once when my boss was giving instructions on which sites were appropriate to browse from work. A secretary remarked "all I browse are news sites", the boss answered "so you think you're being paid to read newspapers?"

      However, the point is not that. If the TSA had an intent to regulate which sites are not appropriate for browsing at work they should include a lot more than "controversial material". OTOH, some "controversial material" shold be allowed, at least for some employees.

      An agency that has "security" in its name should be on alert for security related issues, and those often generate controversy.

      • Re:This isn't news (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Altrag (195300) on Monday July 05, 2010 @06:15PM (#32803710)

        I think you're taking 'controversial' in the wrong context. I doubt that they mean "issues that generate debate" so much as "opinions and facts that we disagree with" (yes, I'm sure it includes facts -- these sort of bans always do). Typically 'controversial opinions' in the second context are generated from the first, and the idea is to just ban one side of the argument so that the readers (TSA employees in this case) will have affirmation of the accepted side and no affirmation of the opposing view. The idea is to steer them towards your way of thinking by simply removing all other thought (of course nothing is preventing any particular employee from thinking up their own opposing viewpoint, but if they try to present it to anyone else it would quickly be pushed under the category of 'controversial opinion' and be banned as well).

      • by williamhb (758070)

        It reminds me of once when my boss was giving instructions on which sites were appropriate to browse from work. A secretary remarked "all I browse are news sites", the boss answered "so you think you're being paid to read newspapers?"

        However, the point is not that. If the TSA had an intent to regulate which sites are not appropriate for browsing at work they should include a lot more than "controversial material". OTOH, some "controversial material" shold be allowed, at least for some employees.

        Why? It's up to them what they consider appropriate for someone's leisure use of their work computers. And unless reviewing "controversial opinion" sites is explicitly part of your job, I don't think they want to pay you to have raving arguments over the internet all day.

        • by WNight (23683)

          If surfing never came up in the context of TSA work why would they ban it? Hmmm?

          Presumably this would apply to lunch-time browsing as well. Maybe that's all it is.

          And what they decide is only as appropriate as we, their bosses, say it is. This isn't some private company.

          • by mea37 (1201159)

            "If surfing never came up in the context of TSA work why would they ban it? Hmmm?"

            What kind of nonsense question is that? My company blocks many categories of website, specifically because they can't foresee any way for browsing of those sites to come up in the context of our work. They do it to avoid productivity loss. Duh.

            "And what they decide is only as appropriate as we, their bosses, say it is. This isn't some private company."

            Oh, your one of those people who thinks that being a taxpayer makes you a

            • by WNight (23683)

              My company blocks many categories of website, specifically because they can't foresee any way for browsing of those sites to come up in the context of our work. They do it to avoid productivity loss. Duh.

              Yeah, Duh is right. That's always the move of a company run by retarded weasels.

              If they're concerned about productivity it'd be far better to make sure you're working than simply to make sure than if you're slacking you at least aren't looking at porn or reading anything controversial.

              But since you apparently like the "business" analogy for government

              Comprehension fail. I said they are NOT a private company.

              Oh, your one of those people who thinks that being a taxpayer makes you a manager of day-to-day operations for government agencies.

              No, oversight. Financial and otherwise.

              • by mea37 (1201159)

                "Yeah, Duh is right. That's always the move of a company run by retarded weasels"

                I wasn't aware you were a business executive with knowledge of how to run a successful company. In fact, I'm pretty sure you're just an asshat spouting off on slashdot.

                But hey, if you want to believe that the Fortune 500 are run by retarded weasels, then perhaps you should do some graduate research to find out why retarded weasles make such successful businessmen and you don't.

                "Comprehension fail. I said they are NOT a private

                • by WNight (23683)

                  I wasn't aware you were a business executive with knowledge of how to run a successful company.

                  No, I'm an admin with an idea of what does not work with regards to net censorship. If you've got employees browsing inappropriate material you're never going to effectively block it so you've got to deal with them directly. Just blocking things is the sign of management who doesn't understand how big the internet is and what a pointless thing they're doing.

                  if you want to believe that the Fortune 500 are run by retarded weasels, then perhaps you should do some graduate research to find out why retarded weasles make such successful businessmen and you don't.

                  Successful businessmen, by definition, wouldn't be caught dead doing something so useless.

                  Comprehension fail. I said they are NOT a private company

                  Yes, you said that after comparing what the agency was doing to the practices of a private company.

                  No, I didn't. I said "we're the boss" referring to us (taxpaye

        • I have done jobs where I was paid to read news (at least news related to certain industries). That news sometimes appeared first on general news sites.

          It was also part of my job to read alcohol and tobacco related websites (e.g. Diageo's and BAT's corporate sites), which were blocked as a category until I complained.

          The email system blocked any email with images. The only time I ever got emails with attached images they were work related - on the other hand non-work related images (usually funny ones) got t

    • It's not news, but I'm puzzled as to why they're implementing the ban. They don't have to. The type of people who work for the TSA wouldn't bother to look up liberal garbage about "rights," and would likely rage if they stumbled upon it.
      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        TSA is a pretty big department and I'm sure a few don't fit that description.

        As an aside, I wonder if /. needs a 'GrossGeneralisationGuy' to go along with its 'BadAnalogyGuy'. ;)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Hi, I work in Aviation Security. The reason this is bad is because it goes against expected industry behaviour, we're expected to always be actively involved in our own professional development ("I must continue to upgrade my knowledge and skills."; "I must increase my awareness of issues affecting the security profession and its relationship with the community.") . This cannot be done if differing opinions to the norm are blocked.
      • Hello, I work in Information Technology. This is not any different for you or anyone else because we are all expected to keep up with our own professional development, but it is not expected to be done on company hours. They actively encourage me to go get certification for various fields, check out new products and systems, attend Microsoft (we're a primarily microsoft shop) events and so on and so forth. However, from 8 till 5 Monday to Friday, we are expected to be at our desk, running regular maintenanc

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Zerth (26112)

          Any research or professional development can be done at home, when you aren't getting paid to do specific tasks.

          Ouch, my company pays for research and education, because the company benefits from it. Of course, we don't have people jumping ship after training, either.

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            Of course, we don't have people jumping ship after training, either.

            How can you stop them?

            • by Zerth (26112)

              How can you stop them?

              Can't stop them, but if you aren't a horrible place to work, they won't cut and run.

              I don't think it has happened, but anybody taking a bunch of training and then quiting without notice gets it taken out of their severance. The company will invest in you, but you are expected to stick around a few months to recoup that investment. Leaving due to illness, spouse being reassigned, etc., are usually let slide if they let their boss know right away.

        • by sjames (1099)

          If your employer EXPECTS it, then it is a work activity. I'm sure they DO actively encourage you to do work related activities off the clock on your own dime, with the lax labor laws, where's the downside to them?

          Like many things, there is a lot of gray area and abuses happen in both directions all the time.

        • by Drishmung (458368)
          An interesting attitude from your employer.
          • Do they also claim to own the rights to anything you develop on your own time, even if not related to your work?
          • Are you permitted to do other work, if it's not in the Information Technology field?
          • Are you permitted to do other work, in the information technology field?
          • Are you also expected to perform administrative tasks in your own time?
          • Are you extremely well paid?
          • 1) No. Though I am not hired as a developer at my work (more of a technician). I am a rare case where my experience in software development lets me work in that field but a majority of my work isn't. However, I do believe that the company has a policy that any systems developed based on any existing systems at our company belong to the company, and anything done during work hours belongs to the company. Anything after hours is not related to the company.

            2) I'm not sure how that would work, but essentially,

            • by Drishmung (458368)
              I meant, could you take a second job? Could you make and sell artwork (not IT related), or write and sell software (IT related) during the weekends.

              By administrative tasks I meant things like writing reports about your work, as opposed to doing your work.

              • Second job? I don't think they'd mind so long as I didn't have to work during my on-call weekends (which is 1 in every 4).

                Writing reports and such will only be done if they are requested for.

        • by Teun (17872)

          Any research or professional development can be done at home, when you aren't getting paid to do specific tasks.

          That's the sort of employer that can't hold on to good staff.

        • by WNight (23683)

          I'd say that your company doesn't care if you learn or not. They'll keep you while you do, but ditch you for a new person at a moment's notice if you fail to. They see you as replaceable so they don't need to spend time maintaining you. Like how with a cheap tool it's more efficient to use it hard and buy another one.

          A company like Zerth's recognizes that there's more to tech skills than the flavor of the day and they strive to find a competent person and keep training them so they bring the benefits of the

        • by Cimexus (1355033)

          Wow that sucks.

          I work in IT and yes we are expected to keep up with our own professional development. But we do not have to do it in our own time. We have a specific number of days of training per financial year which we should aim at using (i.e. standard, paid work days). We can browse around and choose whatever training we'd like to do (within reason) and the boss will approve payment for it and off we go. In fact, he gets grumpy if we don't do this, because he gets a training budget for each quarter and

    • by WNight (23683)

      Sure, in a simplistic sense, they have the right to control what goes on at work.

      But they're our employees and this might be something I want them to read. The issue is a government agency wanting the ability to keep their agents from reading anything controversial.

      It's censorship, which is done to keep the agents easily controlled and to build artificial us/them barriers against those with dissenting views. It's fundamentally at odds with the needs of the people for educated servants who judge the ethics o

    • by danlip (737336)

      You can't fairly compare the TSA to a private employer. A private employer can censor whatever they please on their employee's computers, but the TSA is a government agency, and so shouldn't be censoring anything, especially political debate.

    • by Cimexus (1355033)

      Agreed.

      Many workplaces (and almost ALL ~Government~ workplaces) have their web access filtered to a greater or lesser extent. My wife works for a government department (here in Australia) and she can't access any webmail, facebook, twitter etc. Any site that their BOFH deems productivity-killing. Of course, that just means everyone checks those sites from their mobile phones instead, so it's kinda pointless.

      Therefore I see this as being a bit of a non-issue. TSA employees can see whatever they want on their

    • by master_p (608214)

      So an employee must have the same views as his/her employer? gee, I didn't know that.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:16PM (#32802790)
    We must not have any disloyalty in the TSA!
    • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:29PM (#32802898)
      That is their prerogative. Like any other workplace they do have the right to block access to whatever material they don't want their employees viewing. I'm in the process of setting up a new proxy for a small office, on it they've asked me to block a fairly large list of sites. I will grant you that the "controversial opinion" aspect has shades of big brother, but in all honesty I have to believe that was bureaucratic shorthand for sites that shouldn't be viewed on a work computer. If you want unfettered access to the internet, do it at home.
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:34PM (#32802950)

      We use it where I work and it has those same categories.

      The annoying thing is that it blocks on-line betting sites as "gaming" in the same category as "zero punctuation".

      • That's actually one really cool thing about having Flash on Android Froyo - Zero Punctuation actually works pretty well with it.

        Smart phones are just another method of "I'll still view the site anyhow whether you like it or not".

      • We use it too.. Weird thing, it seems to block wikileaks. I guess since were a financial firm, thats good for the company, but I hope it doesn't dampen whisleblowing at the TSA..

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      Yumping yimminy people, grow the fuck up. The only web sites the typical worker should access from work are those one that directly relate to their work, anything, absolutely anything (even personal banking) is a privilege and a perk.

      Most companies should not block sites, they should block the whole of the world wide web and only allow access to sites that relate to company business. A whole bunch of you should spend some time on factory production lines, boring, mindless, monotonous work, from which the

      • by Trinn (523103)

        I have to take some issue with all of this.

        *note - the following reply is written from a USA-centric point of view, as I am not as familiar with labor laws in other countries

        As far as I know, employers contract with their employees for specific work, and I cannot fathom how, if this work is completed to expectation, employers think they can get away with restricting any (legal, sensible) activity, especially something as benign as surfing the web (okay perhaps there's malware issues, but just don't let idio

  • A bureaucrat? A czar?
    • Depends on who they put in charge of the list. I know where I work the dude in charge blocks most of the sites I like to visit (DKos, Wonkette etc etc...I iz a soshalist/muslin), but his faves are fair game (Drudge, RedState etc). It all comes down to one person's perspective and their willingness to view things dispassionately.

      Although I suppose my example only holds if you view this as a general issue and not one specifically to do with government.

      Meh.

      • Depends on who they put in charge of the list. I know where I work the dude in charge blocks most of the sites I like to visit (DKos, Wonkette etc etc...I iz a soshalist/muslin), but his faves are fair game (Drudge, RedState etc). It all comes down to one person's perspective and their willingness to view things dispassionately.

        This is the reason I don't like this kind of policy. If they don't want people wasting their time by reading about current issues or news on paid time, that would be fine. If they ch

    • by sjames (1099)

      Rasputin I suspect.

  • Damn you Bush!!! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Why are you and Cheney keeping Obama (PBUH) from being inaugurated? Oh, how long must we wait??

  • by dmomo (256005) on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:21PM (#32802830) Homepage

    These people are being restricted from visiting certain websites from their job. These websites are not being stifled. This is something worthy of debate, sure.
    But, this concerns me less than what was implied via the headline. Was it intentionally sensational? I know there's a character limit on headlines, but i refuse to believe that "employee access to" would be all that hard to fit.

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      But I bet "work" is where TSA agents access the web the most, if not exclusively. This could seriously create a selective education within the TSA, allowing the agents to believe the exact opposite of what the rest of the population believes. About what? I don't know, but I'm sure we'll find out in 2011-2012.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        But I bet "work" is where TSA agents access the web the most, if not exclusively.

        What basis do you have for assuming that TSA agents don't have internet at home or smart phones? That seems like an absolutely bizarre assumption.

        • by Culture20 (968837)

          What basis do you have for assuming that TSA agents don't have internet at home or smart phones?

          I assume they are poor, stupid, and they have more free time to surf at work than at home.

          • by Miseph (979059)

            So, you're a total prick?

            And let's just say you're right, and everyone who works for TSA is stupid and poor. Perhaps you haven't noticed, but internet access is cheap and easy to get, so cheap and easy that even the poor and stupid are well-represented on the internet. Just check out some YouTube comments and you'll see what I mean.

            • by Culture20 (968837)
              "and they have more free time to surf at work than at home." The third part carries more weight than the first two. I still know people who won't buy internet access "because I get it free at work". I'm sure the private sector is cracking down on non-productive employees, but government work is government work.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vellmont (569020)


      This is something worthy of debate, sure.
      But, this concerns me less than what was implied via the headline.

      Huh? What's implied by the headline "TSA Internally Blocking Websites With 'Controversial Opinions'"? Looking through the discussion, it seems you're essentially manufacturing this confusion, since nobody is actually confused by the headline.

  • The article... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IANAAC (692242) on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:22PM (#32802844)
    lists things that any other corporation currently blocks, such as chat/messaging, pretty much any type of "entertainment" website.

    Nothing really to see.

    • by Trinn (523103)

      As I mentioned earlier, only corporations that seriously do not care about their employee's productivity do such blocking. (or those that have been convinced by filter software companies that somehow such filtering improves productivity). Of course there are a few employees that might spend too much time doing these things if they are available, but those employees, one would hope, would get let go for failing to meet their expectations anyway (and would almost certainly find other ways to not do their wor

  • oh, please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:27PM (#32802884) Homepage Journal

    what is deemed 'controversial opinion' is not explained.

    - I'll tell you what it is.

    It is ANYTHING at all that somehow differs from the official party (government+big business including military industrial complex) line.

    Any of you are following the outcomes of Michael Hastings story about Afghanistan, the story name is The Runaway General and it features opinions of people like Gen. Stanley McChrystal [rollingstone.com]? You know, just the biggest Afghanistan story in US in the past 10 years? The story that questions everything, all of the assumptions the public holds in US and other places about what is happening in Afghanistan? Even a bigger story on the role of military in US politics and who really is in charge?

    THAT is a 'controversial opinion', though it is not really an opinion, it is a story based on a bunch of facts. A story, which is written by a rare breed of journalist in USA of today - a real journalist, not a bullshit stenographer. Do you understand why the good general provided all of that information to a reporter? It's NOT because he is not media-savvy, after all in 2003 McChrystal was was selected to deliver nationally televised Pentagon briefings about military operations in Iraq, he IS media savvy.

    One thing he learned about media is that when the military says: JUMP, the media JUMPS.

    He was totally caught off-guard by an actual reporter, a journalist, who is really doing his job - watching the fuckers and reporting to the public - THAT is their job, not the propaganda bullshit that is fed to the public through the media by politicians, huge businesses and military day to day.

    Almost all reporting outlets criticized Haysting for doing what they should have been doing - their fucking job.

    So now we see this, TSA is blocking 'controversial opinions'. The President will have his bill and law and methods that will allow him to cut off pieces of the Internet. I fully expect /. to be blocked by TSA there, not that they would read this site anyway.

    Land of the FREE, didn't you know? Now Freer than ever.

    • Re:oh, please (Score:5, Insightful)

      by roman_mir (125474) on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:37PM (#32802960) Homepage Journal

      Forgot to mention, I think the Runaway General is probably THE STORY of the Century, because as a side-effect it has brought up to light the positions that the reporting outfits, the 'journalists' are taking at this point in history.

      Look at this piece of shit: Roy Exum [patriotpost.us]. Quote from the garbage he wrote there:

      All of the old reporters knew that the unwritten code was one of confidentiality and, back then, those who broke it a time or two didn't ever last very long. Instead of the fun nights after practice, they wound up as some proof readers somewhere who never could figure out why suddenly they were going home to watch Ozzie and Harriett. ...
      People who break the code hardly ever last and while Michael Hastings has a marvelous ability with words, his Waterloo will come when he finally realizes of all the hurdles he's faced, when a writer breaks the code the nib on his pen usually doesn't last much longer.

      - this piece of shit, vomit inducing, diarrhea spewing fucker believe he is a journalist, a reporter.

      Geraldo Rivera - the brown nosing dunce [mediaite.com] says about Hasting:

      putting a rat in an eagle's nest,

      - does anybody believe this is a journalist, a reporter who understands what his responsibilities are?

      etc.etc.

      Do not believe the official news channels, they are simply mouth pieces of those in power, they LIE, they LIE for living, they LIE for access, they do no reporting of truth, the stories the 'report' on are given to them by those in power for various political purposes, mostly as propaganda or 'damage control' pieces. These people are NOT doing any actual journalism and reporting, they do NOT question anything that those in power feed them.

      Those are NOT controversial opinions and will not be blocked by the TSA.

    • Michael Yon was writing about the McChrystal problem months ago and no one on the Left saw anything wrong until Rolling Stone printed what was basically a gossip piece. Problems with ROE and strategy were ignored......the only thing that is seen as important is that McChrystal (and staff) wasn't kissing Obama and Biden's asses.

      http://www.michaelyon-online.com/ [michaelyon-online.com]

      • Re:oh, please (Score:5, Interesting)

        by roman_mir (125474) on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:56PM (#32803160) Homepage Journal

        You are so full of stinking shit. Hasting's piece is not about the McChrystal problem, it is much bigger than that, it is about the power struggle between military command and the politicians, or in fact what power struggle? The PR machine of the military is almost the same size as the State Department (something like 26thousand people vs 32thousand).

        It is not about the General and in fact who gives a fuck if McChrystal kisses ass at all? It is about the fact that McChrystal himself does not believe Afghanistan is winnable, that military command does not believe it, that politicians should know it, that military expects the civilian politicians to jump to their words just as much as the current media does today, and they do, ffs. McChrystal did the SAME fucking thing when he leaked the story on needing more troops in Afghanistan, or more importantly, he wanted to force the hand of the President and he SUCCEEDED and he got his troops.

        McChrystal should have been fired right THEN and THERE for getting into politics, for trying and in fact for setting policy rather than doing what he is told by the Chief.

        Why am I speaking to you? I am not speaking to you, I am writing this for the rest of /. but your comment is bullshit.

      • Asking whether McChrystal was an ineffective military leader in Afghanistan is no different than judging Marshall Sergei Sokolov when he commanded Russian forces there in the 80s. It completely misses the real question: why does anyone think military aggression in the middle east will reduce terrorism?

        Michael's site perfectly encapsulates the sheer irony of the war. One needs only a little imagination to extract the following sentiment: "God bless you and our troops in the war against those islamic fascists

        • As the Afghan way of life seems to be based on intolerance, blood feuds, petty local dictatorships, the oppression of women and other such charming traditions, I am not overly impressed by their right to keep it.

          On the other hand, the best chance they had to get away from that was probably the communist government that the Americans and their Middle Eastern allies created the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and various other nasties to fight.

          • by copponex (13876)

            As the Afghan way of life seems to be based on intolerance, blood feuds, petty local dictatorships, the oppression of women and other such charming traditions, I am not overly impressed by their right to keep it.

            And in what ways is this any different from the American way of life in the 1800s? Do you think it would have helped if Spain had somehow won the war and forced their way of life on us at the turn of the century?

    • by jofny (540291)
      I fully expect /. to be blocked by TSA there
      Ionno - No one gave a crap that I looked at Slashdot when I worked there. Good job taking a poorly worded bureaucratic ass-covering and attributing Dan Brown levels of +eleventy-billion conspiracy powers to it. And feel free to jump to my website, resume, art site, whatever for a pretty decent counter-example to your a$$-hattery here.

      //God, some people, they do need babysitters and soft walls.
      • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

        Oh no need. I think I've just witnessed a pretty standard example of the fine people skills people who work at the TSA often have.

    • by fermion (181285)
      Which is absolutely besides the point. This is not a college. These people are not being paid to form an opinion. These people are largely being paid to complete a task.

      Here is the problem. The TSA has contributed greatly to the US deficit, so we have to make sure it serves some purpose. We got along without for 200 years, and then all of the sudden we had to become a socialist state as we entered the 21st century. While I know that people have to work, and I have no issue with job programs, especia

    • by gillbates (106458)

      I know its OT, but he could have spared the General his job. I don't consider the sensationalist, unsubstantiated style to be professional journalism:

      The general's staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs

      Nope, nothing but the facts there.

  • Chem Trails!!!!

  • Maybe it's not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bugs2squash (1132591) on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:37PM (#32802966)
    to stop the TSA officers watching, but to prevent TSA officers from posting anything "controversial". An unguarded post in a racially charged forum would be damaging.
    • Re:Maybe it's not (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday July 05, 2010 @05:06PM (#32803210) Journal
      That is usually part of the rationale for the inclusion of categories like "controversial" and "hate/violence" in institutional filterware. If somebody discovers posts from an employee, timestamped during working hours, somewhere legal-but-unsavory you have just entered the world of extremely embarrassing bad PR. This is true in corporate, and probably goes double(or more) for the TSA.

      You block porn because it's a timesucker, because it has some cool malware, and because if that creepy guy in sales is masturbating audibly you are probably going to get a pile of harassment lawsuits.

      You block personals/dating/facebook/myspace/etc. because they are massive timesuckers(and for a broader demographic than porn) and can inject an extra dose of ghastly interpersonal drama if you aren't lucky.

      Gambling, again, timesucker/malware.

      Can you imagine the hell that some bumbling middle-manager would be made to pay if some TSA flunky turned out to be posting on stormfront.org or revolutionmuslim.com during working hours? It would be an utter no-win. Porn, at least, is treated as a basically apolitical symptom of waste and incompetence. Having to say, with a straight face, that the "racial realists" on staff definitely aren't contributing to an even more hostile flying atmosphere for anybody darker than hitler; or attempting to claim that that yours must be the friendly and apolitical islam enthusiasts would be difficult and probably career-limiting. Given the size, and low standards, of the TSA, it is pretty much 100% that there is at least one of each(though probably skewed a bit toward the "shallow end of the white supremacist gene pool, which is why I'm dressed as a rentacop and harassing people about carry-on liquids" side). I'm wholly unsurprised that TSA management doesn't want anything politically embarrassing to happen during work hours.
      • by master_p (608214)

        Can you imagine the hell that some bumbling middle-manager would be made to pay if some TSA flunky turned out to be posting on stormfront.org or revolutionmuslim.com during working hours? It would be an utter no-win.

        First of all, why not? why should a company be responsible for what its personnel posts? what if the post is positive about the company?

        Secondly, why not simply fire the employee who posts negative comments online?

        There is a lot more to banning sites than you imagine. The establishment wants the people scared. Do you think that an employee of a company that doesn't allow him to post in "controversial" sites will dare post anything from his home in the same sites? he will be scared to death.

        • The problem for the TSA, in the hypothetical instances that I suggested, is not whether or not the posts are positive. I see no reason to pay people to post one way or the other on the clock; but would frown on any off-the-clock restrictions.

          The problem is what patronizing sites like that suggests about the TSA staff in question. If you are a pseudo-law-enforcement division with delusions of power and strong public presumption of incompetence, the public has every reason to be concerned by evidence that
      • by tehcyder (746570)

        You block porn because it's a timesucker, because it has some cool malware, and because if that creepy guy in sales is masturbating audibly you are probably going to get a pile of harassment lawsuits.

        Goddammit, I thought my door was shut...hold on.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Shame on TSA for leaving "controversial opinion" up to the imagination, but the move itself - especially the rest of it - is not controversial at all. I say "bravo" to taxpayer dollars not paying for somebody at the TSA to surf porn or gamble online all day. Look at it this way: If the TSA did not enforce an acceptable use policy, we would in short order be reading sensationalized stories about gross negligence and waste of taxpayer money. People would be outraged about that, too, and justifiably so.

    Atte

  • ...surf anything you want on your own time on your own computer.
  • by headhot (137860)

    TSA agents can read?

  • Did anyone watch the video attached to the second link?

    I can attest to some of the attitudes by the TSA. I got the dreaded 'SSSS' on my boarding pass once and I had to fly - if I were a terrorist, i would have just walked out, but I guess that never occurred to the TSA or I'm goddamned brilliant and the President should make me the head of the HMS. Anyway, TSA agent orders me into this clear plastic 3 sided booth. What I was in there for I don't know. Now, said booth acts like a big ear. Meaning, every noi

    • by IANAAC (692242)

      I got the dreaded 'SSSS' on my boarding pass once and I had to fly

      I got one of those one time too, but I knew exactly why. My mom was pretty much on her deathbed and I bought a ticket at the airport a couple of hours before boarding.

      Easy enough to figure out, but I realize not all cases are as easy to know.

      Did you find out why you were given that type of boarding pass? You could have asked before you ever hit security and probably been prepared for what would happen. And they most likely would have

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:41PM (#32803018) Journal
    The TSA just implemented some off-the-shelf web filtering proxy product, presumably to try to claw back some productivity from their ill-trained, ill-motivated, and generally unimpressive staff.

    That list of bland, boilerplate categories just screams "generic-filterware". I'm not 100% positive which; but it sounds a lot like websense.

    Don't get me wrong, the TSA is a boil on the ass of the body politic; but the fact that their cube drones are now being subjected to the same online annoyances as cube drones in thousands of other corporate, educational, and government setups strikes me as a matter of absolutely no relevance to my rights(except in that, if the TSA employees are forced to do less porn surfing, they might get some work done, and their work would probably damage my rights somehow).
    • (except in that, if the TSA employees are forced to do less porn surfing, they might get some work done, and their work would probably damage my rights somehow).

      TSA employees get mandated free porn surfing at work now that they have full body scanners.

  • If it's not work-related, they don't need to be going there, same as at my non-governmental job. Lame.
  • 418 Controversial content

    The characteristics of the content have been determined to be too controversial.

  • I'd argue that much of what the TSA does is rather controversial. Are they blocking their own websites?
  • The point is not about controlling access to controversial opinions, it's about controlling access to things that people tend to waste a lot of time on.

    The categories being blocked are:
    Chat/Messaging
    Controversial opinion
    Criminal activity
    Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content
    Gaming

    I'll take a Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious for $500, Alex.

    (The answer is, "They're busy playing around on the web at work.")

    That would be "Why hasn't the TSA caug

  • The list in the memo sounds a lot like (although not exactly the same as) Websense categories. My guess is the folks at TSA aren't deciding what "controversial opinion" is, but are delegating that to some company they've contracted their web-filtering to. And my guess is that it would be the category which contains things like websites associated with KKK, Aryan Nation, ALF, and other groups with extreme positions. I could be wrong, of course, but I doubt it's much different than what nearly any major co

  • Hey TSA ... I got your "controversial opinion" right here!

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