Thursday, May 03, 2007

Facebook Ban: Ontario Government Blocks Employee Access

I have to admit it, Wise Law Office has caught the Facebook bug.

Annie Kenet, our soon-to-be-called-to-the-Bar articling student, essentially has almost all of us hooked.

The emerging Facebook culture is simply fascinating. Aside from the the opportunity it provides to deepen or re-establish important personal and professional connections, I am beginning to anticipate that this new technology will have an enormous commercial and cultural impact over time.

Beyond the anthropological implications of social networking, however, we have had a number of discussions within our office about this new technology's privacy implications and its ramifications for the workplace. I touched upon these briefly, in this post, a few weeks ago.

With this ongoing dialogue in mind, this report today from CTV News caught my eye:

Ont. government employees blocked from Facebook

Government employees in Ontario can no longer access Facebook, the popular social networking website, on their computers.To the chagrin of some of the thousands of workers -- including Liberal aides, backbenchers and cabinet ministers -- the 21-million member site is now blocked by the provincial ban.

As of Tuesday, when workers tried to access the site, they were greeted with the same "access denied" message that pops up if someone tries to access a pornography site, according to the Toronto Star.

Facebook is the latest website to be banned by the province, joining YouTube, online poker gambling websites and hardcore sex sites, Government Services Minister Gerry Phillips told the Star.

"The staff determined it's not as directly related to the workplace as we'd like it to be so we're restricting access to it," he said.

"Our IT (information technology) people are pretty broadly familiar with the marketplace and they said, `Here's a website that's going to be increasingly more popular for the OPS (Ontario public service). Is this an appropriate website to be spending time on?'"

...Premier Dalton McGuinty weighed in on the ban, saying he doesn't see how Facebook adds value to a workplace environment.

... Canada is the fastest growing market for the Facebook website with more than two million users. In Toronto, there are more than 500,000 registered users.

We'll have more to say on the Facebook phenomenon in posts to come.

For now, however, I'll go on record as predicting that time will prove the Premier wholly wrong as to Facebook's potential to "add value" to the workplace.
- Garry J. Wise, Toronto
Visit our Website: http://www.wiselaw.net/

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