TSA Responds to Web Blocking Memo

**Updated Blog 8:20 pm, 7/6/10: TSA Reverses "Controversial Opinion" Web Policy

Responding to a story first reported by CBS News on Saturday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today said it, "uses a security technology to limit access to categories of web sites that pose an increased security risk. TSA does not block access to critical commentary about the organization..."

According to an internal email obtained by CBS News, the TSA implemented a new policy blocking its employees from accessing any websites that contain a "controversial opinion" on work computers.

"This policy is terrible," said Louis Maltby, President of the National Workrights Institute, a non-profit group that advocates for workplace rights. Maltby points out that anything on the internet could be deemed controversial and if blocked, in some cases, could cross the line of violating a worker's right to information.

Employees of the TSA, responsible for nation's airport security, were informed of the new policy Friday in an internal memo.  The memo states that websites with a "controversial opinion" are "inappropriate for government access" in addition to any websites that have "Chat/Messaging", "Criminal activity", "Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content" and "Gaming" - all of which are now being blocked.

In response, the TSA sent the following statement to CBS News Tuesday:

"TSA routinely makes improvements to our information technology systems to stay ahead of evolving cyber threats to keep our systems secure. As part of this continued effort, TSA uses a security technology to limit access to categories of web sites that pose an increased security risk. TSA does not block access to critical commentary about the organization and in fact expressly created the TSA IdeaFactory and the TSA Blog to promote diverse opinions. TSA employees will be able to access web sites required for work purposes."

In additon, a TSA spokesperson says the "TSA Blog was founded in 2008 to engage the public in an open dialogue and is open to both the public and employees."

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