When I was at Volvo IT (my former employer until 2000) for a meeting today, it became sadly clear that Volvo IT have entered further down the path of radical ignorance. I've heard about their strange firewall filters before stopping people from visiting web pages containing the phrases "IP telephony", "sex" and ""games". Apparently the filters have broadened and now they seems to have added phrases like "social software" as well.
I couldn't resist asking if I could do a quick test for a number of web-sites I read or write. Here are 4 examples of sites that was blocked.
- http://brintam.blogspot.com/ (my personal photo blog in Swedish - maybe not that strange that it is blocked)
- http://www.weconverse.com (Richard Gatarskis web/blog where he discusses e g social media in companies and society)
- http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/ (Thinker and author John Robbs blog)
- http://opendotdotdot.blogspot.com/ (Glyn Moody's blog where he writes about and explores e g open source)
When trying to reach these sites you are met with:
BLOCKED / STOPPAD
(English text below)
Ã…tkomst har stoppats till webbplatsen http://brintam.blogspot.com/. Den ör klassad som kategori Social Networking and Personal Sites.
Volvokoncernen ger åtkomst till ett urval av webbplatser genom sin internettjönst. Andra kategorier av webbplatser ör stoppade.
Behöver du åtkomst till den angivna webbplatsen för ditt arbete måste du begöra åtkomstmöjlighet till den genom att sönda ett e-brev till firstname.lastname@example.org. Ange varför du behöver komma åt den.
Ytterligare information finns i:
Regler för internetanvöndning
(Svensk text ovan)
Access to web site http://brintam.blogspot.com/ is blocked. It is categorised as Social Networking and Personal Sites.
Volvo Group provides access to a subset of web sites through its Internet services. Other web site categories are blocked.
If you need access to the requested web site in this blocked category for a work related purpose, you must request it to be accessible by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. Be sure to state why you need access to the web site.
You can find further information in:
Rules for internet use
So of course you might request access to a specific site when you believe you need to... I don't know how often they say yes or no, but to have to request access site by site in the information age is really strange!
Here you can read what Richard Gatarski wrote about restriction of web access in May 2007:
Here is my main point: Various measures to control access to IT is an alarming issue for the organizations who have not yet understood the consequences of their current security measures. These might stop outsiders getting access to internal systems, and keep insiders away from what might look as non-work-related stuff. But in the long run the result is an organization full of members who neither know what is going on, nor get the chance to develop knowledge and skills concerning media development and new social patterns
Isn't it ironic that Volvo IT employees can't read Richard's post containing these lines since they can't reach his site at all?
Maybe I should be happy that this blog (http://www.futuramb.se/blog) and it's sister blog (http://www.futuramb.se/scenariotankar - in Swedish) could be reached so that Volvo employees can read this post... Ooops! Now they probably can't since this page contains the phrase "social software".
The filter seems to filter everything which is published on the sites blogspot.com and typepad.com. Another large blog that is blocked is http://sethgodin.typepad.com, one of the top 10 Technorati blogs.