TSA tries to block websites with "Controversial Opinions"
Yesterday the TSA sent a notification to its employees stating that it would be blocking certain websites on work computers. Among the websites to be blocked those depciting criminal activity, extreme violence, gaming, and websites with chat or messaging functionality. All of this sounds fine, right? We certainly don't want TSA employees to be distracted by updating their facebook statuses. However, one category of websites to be blocked raised quite a few eyebrows: websites with "controversial opinions."
CBS News broke this story yesterday. According to CBS, the TSA had not offered to define what a "controversial opinion" is, leaving the agency to block any website at, apparently, the discrestion of the TSA's Office of Information Technology.
If this doesn't bother you it should. Giving a government administration the ability to arbitrarily block certain websites for its employees may be a first step, a pilot program if you will, for blocking websites for the mass audience - condition a small segment of the population to accept censorship before censoring the larger population. Imagine waking up tomorrow to an email stating:
Because TexasGOPVote.com publishes controversial opinions, the Department of Homeland Security will be blocking that website. Please feel free to read the safe opinions on any government approved website. - Thank You
Thankfully, because of the exposure that CBS was able to give to this story on the internet, the TSA reversed its decision late yesterday...one has to wonder how long it will be before a government agency tries to interfere with the internet again...