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Australia Government The Internet Your Rights Online

Report Finds More Aussie Gov't Workers Misusing Internet 90

Posted by timothy
from the surely-that-would-never-happen-here dept.
destinyland writes "A new report to Australia's parliament announces a 54% increase in government workers misusing the internet. In fiscal year 2010, 313 different federal workers came under investigation for improper use of e-mail or the internet, up from just 202 in the previous year. The report — available online as a PDF file — also discovered that nearly half the investigated workers were in the Australian Tax Office, according to an Australian technology blog. 'Maybe it's just a case of particularly boring work making such distractions more attractive,' they suggest, since the report blames most of the discovered cases on one-time incidents of poor judgment."
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Report Finds More Aussie Gov't Workers Misusing Internet

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  • by timeOday (582209) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @04:18PM (#34453158)
    Huge year-to-year changes are more likely to result from changes to enforcement rather than changes to actual behavior.
  • by Aerorae (1941752) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @04:21PM (#34453182)
    Government workers are people too. Just like the people in businesses all around the world shopping for shoes on the clock.
  • by obarel (670863) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @04:42PM (#34453360)

    I don't even know what "Improper use" is. Shopping for shoes online? Sending an e-mail to your wife? Checking the news, weather, traffic jams? Going on Facebook?

    Strictly speaking, even going the toilet is a waste of public money. But seriously... is day-dreaming for five minutes better than going on the Internet for five minutes?

  • Maybe it's different in areas other than tech, but in technology, both in industry and in academia, there isn't much correlation between the productivity of a worker and their tendency to "misuse the internet". There are plenty of very productive people who also post on Twitter a few times a day, take a brief detour while googling for an answer to a tech question to answer a question on StackOverflow that came up in the search, glance at a few mailing lists, and check their personal gmail compulsively. Especially for people under 35 or so, it might actually correlate positively with productivity: the kinds of people who can't keep themselves from answering StackOverflow questions, reading / posting on mailing lists, etc., are often much more proactive and plugged into many parts of the tech scene, compared to the people who just keep their head down and put in their 8 hours.

  • by AuMatar (183847) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @04:52PM (#34453406)

    And do you have any idea what that would do to employee morale? To work for a place that's that draconian? You'd lose more productivity to that then you ever would to the internet. Not to mention many of your best employees would leave over time to any of the 99% of employers who don't give a fuck so long as your work gets done.

  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @04:52PM (#34453408) Journal

    IMHO "misusing the internet" should only apply for sending spam, doing DoS attacks, hacking other computers, and things like that. If I look out of the window instead of working, am I misusing the window?

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @04:53PM (#34453422)

    whitelisting can be a bigger sometimes though.
    I know when trying to figure out wierd application errors googling is generally the fastest way to find people who've had the same problem and how they've fixed it.
    I'd hate to be working on similar problems with a whitelist stopping me from viewing the thousands of tech support forums out there.
    I'd waste countless hours getting the same or worse info from documentation or trying to figure it out from scratch.

    ever tried to work out what "assertion error 266" or whatever the cryptic error is without google?
    With google: 20 seconds.
    without google or the internet: 20 minutes to hours.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @05:12PM (#34453552) Journal
    These studies about (almost always public sector) workers and their terrible, terrible internet misuse seem like little more than ammunition for the handwringers, and maybe a couple of privatization zealouts.

    Reality: Unless chained to an assembly line, under guard, most workers are going to spend some minutes a day doing some form of "nonwork". Particularly for people whose work involves a mixture of thinking and typing, it won't even be trivial to distinguish between work and nonwork, and for people whose work involves manual labor, one has to make the distinction between "rest" and "slacking off".

    Given that the internet is a bottomless well of amusements, as well as an excellent way to check personal email, pay that credit card bill you just remembered to avoid a late fee, queue up a netflix item while you are still thinking about it from that conversation at lunch, etc. it seems pretty obvious that most of the white-collar nonwork is going to be internet related(and almost 100% of the visible kind is. If somebody spends 10 minutes 'cleaning their desk' in order to avoid work, nobody will ever know. If they spend 10 minutes on reddit, IT can know completely automatically.

    Now, as "IT" for an institution myself, I can sympathize with IT trying to block certain sorts of extracurriculars: I don't want to get a BSA beatdown because you were on warez.ru. I don't want to spend my already overstretched time battling viruses because you just had to download free smilies and/or goat porn. If the institution's attorney's come to me and say "We are being sued for creating a hostile, porn infested work environment." I would like to be able to say "Well, we have measures in place that meet or exceed industry standards for professional content filtering; but, as no programmatic filter can be perfect, we do ultimately depend on HR's training and disciplinary procedures." rather than "Well, goodbye to my career..."

    However, again in "IT"'s shoes, I don't give a fuck if you want to check your gmail, balance your checkbook, or do some online christmas shopping. If it doesn't mean legal exposure or substantial likelyhood of time consuming or costly network damage(thanks to 3rd party ad networks, virtually any site is a potential risk, but the known hives of scum and villainy are worse...) If your performance sucks, hopefully your performance reviews will reflect that and get you fired. If your performance doesn't suck, the cost of a few megabytes off our big fat institutional connection is A)sunk, we pay for the pipe whether we use it or not and B) probably less than your paperclip budget for the year. I. Don't. Care.

    Worker productivity is not a problem that you can solve by dicing up their workday and micromanaging what happens during every second. Decide what performance you want, fire people who don't meet it, keep people who do, promote people who exceed it. Don't fuck around with meaningless(but easy to measure) minutia: that is practically the definition of "cargo cult management".
  • by obarel (670863) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @08:18PM (#34454940)

    Blocked: Category Humour not permitted.

    That is the saddest message I have ever seen in my life.

  • by macshit (157376) <miles@@@gnu...org> on Sunday December 05, 2010 @10:20PM (#34455744) Homepage

    Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I don't think that screwing around on the internet doing non-work things ought to be acceptable. Personally, I don't want to have my morale harmed by being asked to pick up the slack because there isn't enough productivity to cover the work needed. Doesn't matter whether it's too few employees or too much goofing off online.

    It strongly depends on the job. If your business only requires mouth-breathers, you can do what you want, because you're scraping the bottom of the barrel anyway; they're desperate. But if you need employees with some degree of intelligence/creativity/etc, and you go all control-freak, you will lose all the good ones.

    Your choice I suppose.

    [Of course logic rarely has anything to do with it -- authoritarian bosses tend to be that way for personal reasons, not because it's actually the best way to run their business...]

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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