Thursday, June 01, 2006

Freedom Eroding

My how things change when you go on vacation. I come back to work and find that computer policy people have decided that we need a net nanny service. You know, software that blocks entry to certain websites that someone, somewhere has found offensive.

We didn’t get the net nanny program to enforce a no-Internet policy. My employer’s official policy is that you can use the Internet for personal use provided you’re not interfering with your work,surfing porn, racist sites, gambling online, engaging in illegal activities, or sending chain letters.

Given today’s litigiousness, I can understand the no-porn thing (a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen) and hate sites. One shouldn’t expect to gamble on an employer’s premises (unless you work for Harrah’s), and chain letters chew up bandwidth. I understand these rules, but the net nanny blocks other things.

Someone at the net nanny company doesn’t like guns and created a “weapons” category. Fortunately they don’t have an exhaustive list of gun blogs, but I can’t get on The Other Side of Kim, Heads Bunker, or Publicola (forgive me if the links don't work, I can't test them) .

When I click on each site, I get a popup screen telling me I’ve been a bad girl and that the site was banned because it dealt with weapons. (Out of curiosity, I clicked on NRA and I can go there.)

Their list is not exhaustive. I can get on Ten Ring and most other gunnie sites, but I’m always waiting for a blocking screen that will, according to text, tattle-tale on me to our IT services people. Whatever.

I agreed to provide my employer with my services for a certain remuneration. I didn’t make a pact that includes censorship. It’s one thing if my employer bans use of the Internet for any private reason, but to allow it and then selectively censor legal things that I might choose to read on my own time is wrong.

I also discovered another site it doesn’t like. Bill sent me a post from Say Uncle about Washington State outlawing online gambling. I can get to Say Uncle, but he linked to “” and that invoked the nanny screen because it deals with gambling. I have no idea what rgtonline is, but what about the First Amendment? What about my right as a free American to read what I want?

Americans are losing their freedoms slowly but surely. If you like to do certain things that others consider asocial, you will become an outcast or even a criminal. It’s affected me with the net nanny. I like to read about guns. So far that’s not illegal even if it offends people I work with every day.

However in Washington State, I would commit a felony if I even link to an online gambling site (at least as far as I can tell given censorship that blocks me from learning more).

I can’t buy one round of ammunition in Massachusetts if I don’t have their stupid firearms card. I could buy ammo in Maine with no questions asked other than, “Need help carrying all that out to your car?”

If I smoked, I can’t light up in a bar in too many cities and states to list.

Wake up people and start defending everyone’s liberties. You may like a smoke-free restaurant. You may think online gambling is devil’s work. You may be an anti-gunnie. You might say that your employer should be able to censor what you read. But one day, a liberty dear to you will be crushed. Who will you turn to for help?

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