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Report Finds More Aussie Gov't Workers Misusing Internet 90

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 MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @04:52PM (#34453416) Journal

    Although superficially logical, I dislike this attitude. Relaxed, happy workers are generally more productive and of greater value to the company - showing them respect (and giving them the chance to blow off a little steam) by simply stating that they must maintain an acceptable level of productivity (hard to quantify, I know, but decent management should be able to roughly gauge how much work someone's getting done) is likely to work a lot better in the long run. Basic rules about illegal downloading and the like should obviously be in place, and if an employee is messing about online to the extent that it's detrimental to their work then of course disciplinary measures are in order, but telling your workers exactly how they must behave breeds resentment - telling them what they have to achieve and leaving it up to them to decide how to do so is a far more sensible tactic.

  • by javakah ( 932230 ) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @04:57PM (#34453438)

    From what I've seen of this, the flip side of this is that such people are also much more likely to be checking work email, etc. after hours. So if something suddenly comes up during non-normal hours, it's more likely to be dealt with quickly as part of a give-and-take approach. It's a blending of personal and working life. Yes, you do have to accept that some personal matters will be dealt with during work hours, but work matters will then sometimes be dealt with during personal hours.

  • by BarryHaworth ( 536145 ) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @05:02PM (#34453480) Homepage

    I'm a bit surprised that there isn't any policy barring this sort of thing. I guess it probably depends what the job is, but if you're just needing access to email and a couple of known sites, whitelisting those sites and blocking everything else isn't that hard. I remember the last time I had a job with internet, they were pretty clear that the connection belongs to the employer and that any use of it for anything that wasn't specifically sanctioned would lead to discipline.

    Oh, there's a policy all right, and a comprehensive system of filtering of content. Without having a copy of the policy in front of me (I'm not browsing Slashdot at work :-), sites such as online email and social media are are prohibited outright and will display a "Blocked" message if you try to access them, others are questionable in some way and will display a "Coached" message, meaning that you can still click through, but be warned that your access is being monitored and you may be called on to justify accessing that site. Other sites, such as online banking & news sites, are specifically allowed in the policy, so long as access is infrequent and brief and does not interfere with regular work.

    This occasionally pops up a few unintentional ironies. Last year there was an article in the weekly internal newsletter about the ATO's new Facebook Fan page which included a helpful link. But when you clicked on the link - Blocked! Another time a work related email list I subscribed to posted a link to an XKCD cartoon (this one I think: [] - I'm a statistician), but clicking on the link brought up the message: Blocked: Category Humour not permitted.

    Occasionally it is even useful - is is not uncommon to browse a news site and see the article text just fine, but have many of the ads replaced by Blocked messages.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, 2010 @01:45AM (#34456942)
    Okay, so I work as a contractor for an Australian government department, as an IT Security Administrator no less... by accessing pornography, pirated material, games etc. you're opening up a vector for attack which can be exploited by a variety of malware, from Flash exploits to browser exploits, all because you bastards want to use work resources for non-work reasons. Now, I don't care that much if people use work resources for non-work reasons but when it threatens the confidentiality, integrity and availability of various systems on the network then it becomes my problem which in turn becomes everyone's problem on the network. Most of this crap is sent via email and people accessing links from said emails, with the increase of sophisticated social engineering attacks, with some specially crafted for a target, and with the average employee's ability to determine what's real and what isn't (fuck all) it can become a serious problem quite quickly especially when politicians and people with have evaluated privileges for certain systems do it as well.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?