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Now Blogs Not Safe for Work

Bloggers are getting smacked by a bad thrashing review from Forbes magazine, and now there is a Wired story that Blogs Not Safe for Work.

Robert Mason (not his real name) would love to spend a few minutes during lunch catching up on blog posts from around the web, but his company doesn’t allow it. The financial institution where Mason works as a vice president has security filters set up to block access to — among other things — any website that contains the phrase “blog” in the URL.

What’s more, says Mason, such practices are becoming prevalent in corporate America, particularly in financial services. Mason sits on a roundtable privacy group of 20 of the country’s largest banks. “My best understanding is that my company’s anti-blog stance is the industry norm,” he says.

Filtering out every blog isn’t a completely feasible project (and, in fact, Mason says his company’s filter doesn’t catch everything), but the technology to censor the lion’s share of blogs is fairly commonplace. From installing simple URL filters and content scanners to blacklisting ranges of IP addresses, myriad methods for shutting out blog content are available.

If nothing else, the corporate firewall can simply add the word “blog” to the company’s list of verboten phrases that trigger blocking, alongside “games,” “warez” and “britney spears sex tape.”

Keith Crosley, director of corporate communications at censorware company Proofpoint, says there’s no anti-blog conspiracy at work, but that some companies have higher security, privacy and regulatory needs that require greater diligence over what companies can and cannot do.

Okay, this is what I’m not understanding. Yes, I understand that companies are worried about people blogging and leaking sensitive material, be it through actual blogging or comments posted on blogs, but what’s wrong with actually reading blogs?

The article mentions that “In a survey of over 300 large businesses conducted in conjunction with Forrester, Proofpoint found 57.2 percent of respondents were concerned with employees exposing sensitive material in blogs. That’s higher than the portion concerned with the risks of P2P networks.”

NPR Markletplace reported that workers in the US are becoming obsessed with blogs, and that one in four working Americans read blogs while at work, which makes cutting off access to blogs is a serious thing.

What do you think? Should you be able to read blogs while at work? And what about posting comments or even blogging while at work? Should there be censors and blocks on that, too?

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  1. Posted October 29, 2005 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I think that it goes beyond leaks of sensitive information. Weblogging puts the power of rapid and wide dispersion of information in everyone’s hands. You’re beginning to see lower echelon employees blog about the companies where they work. In some cases, they are becoming a prominent ‘voice’ within the company and a view into its activities. These corporations have reason to be afraid. One disgruntled employee with a chip on their shoulder and a weblog with any readership has the potential to damage the company in any number of ways, leaks of confidential information, false accusations, etc. And can you imagine how difficult it becomes to manage a workforce when your employees are empowered in this fashion? Would you fire a worthless employee who has the hottest blog discussing your company?

    I think that these companies are making a mistake by heading down the road towards censorship. If the leaders of these corporations were smart, they would embrace the technology and capitalize on it before their employees do. It’s foolish to think that employees will not participate in this form of communication because they’ve limited access to weblogs from work networks. If anything, it will give the employees more to discuss once they get home 😉

  2. Vc
    Posted October 29, 2005 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    NO ONE should be surfing ANYWHERE on employer time. You want to surf? You want to read blogs? You want to porn-drool? Take your laptop or whatever, go sit in your car or the park.

    Every employer in this world should crack down hard on people who use employer machines and software to play their “personal games”.

  3. Posted November 7, 2006 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    It’s not so much that employers are worried about leaking sensitive information – that’s probably the least of their worries when it comes to blogs. The biggest worry is loss of productivity. I manage my companies web filter and was told by the executives to block blogs because of possible decreased productivity. Many major companies worry more about information leaks via e-mail and removable media.

  4. Posted September 22, 2007 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Some kind of disciplin is a must at the work place, however, the companies should now allow some in between time for pure internet surfing freedom on own or the companies machines as a policy and welfare excercise. There is no reason why the emplyoyee should be cut off completely, his exposure is also in the end used gainfully by the company itse;f otherwise the employee may say that he will not use any knowledge agained after joining service but got during free time for the compnanies advantage. The companies want his worker more knowledgeable and learning more techniques but don’t want to allow time and freedon is again wrong.

  5. Posted November 15, 2007 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Heh, VC. I “surf on company time”, because it turns out that the Internet actually contains some useful information that lets me work more effectively…

    … and, shock, some of that information appears on Blogs. If for no other reason that quite a lot of our competitors have blogs, as do journalists reporting on our industry.

    Having an “Internet Access Policy” makes a lot of sense for any company – having one with a rule to say “don’t allow access to reading any blogs” is, well, about as sensible as one that says “don’t allow access to any site that runs WebSphere”.

  6. lend
    Posted February 2, 2008 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    well where i live, if you are caught on a games website, blog, ebay etc… or anything that isnt for the good of the organisation you can be dismissed on the spot..

4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Blogs took a hit in the workplace. Not only did companies crack down on people blogging about their company, they handed out contracts for their employees to sign saying they wouldn’t blog about their company. Blog reading during work hours was also nixed as more and more companies put blocks on blog websites and popular blogs. In “Now Blogs Not Safe for Work”, I wrote: Wired story that Blogs Not Safe for Work. […]

  2. […] Now Blogs Not Safe for Work […]

  3. […] Now Blogs Not Safe for Work […]

  4. […] about work? When you blog about work you may put yourself and your job on the line. While employers are more forgiving than they used to […]

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