The federal government is backing off its banishment from a nationwide Transportation Security Administration network of five Web subjects, including “controversial opinion.”
The ban had been announced on Friday heading into the July 4th holiday weekend by Emma Garrison-Alexander, an assistant administrator in the Office of Information Technology for the TSA.
Her announcement said that the TSA would be blocking certain websites from the federal agency’s network, including those containing “controversial opinion.”
The announcement said that along with the banned opinion, subjects that also would be banished included chat/messaging sites, criminal-activity sites, those with extreme violence including cartoon violence and gaming sites.
However, a new memo to employees was released today, and WND obtained a copy, in which the agency backed off its earlier attack.
“The July 2nd broadcast specifically mentioned ‘controversial opinion’ as a category that would be blocked,” the new message from the same administrator said. “This category is an IT software catch-all phrase used to describe sites that may violate TSA’s acceptable use policy, such as sites that promote destructive behavior to one’s self or others.
“After further review, TSA determined this category may contain some sites that do not violate TSA’s policy and therefore has concluded that the category is no longer being considered for implementation,” she continued.
“Regardless of whether any particular internet site is blocked, employees are reminded to adhere to the acceptable use policy. Our intent is not, and never has been, to limit your ability to access or share ‘controversial opinions.’ TSA’s core values of Integrity, Innovation and Team Spirit encourage employees to share and explore different ideas in support of each other and our security mission.”
A spokesman confirmed to WND that the memo was genuine, and released an additional explanatory statement:
“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.”
On a CBS forum page after the Friday announcement, there was a strong reaction to what apparently was perceived as a crackdown on thought and expression.
“Sooooo … because I’m opinionated my friends in the TSA can’t look at my Facebook account, or even my e-mails, because I’m somewhat … critical of Obama’s policies? Nah. This is just the usual creeping fascism that comes wrapped in smilies whenever a liberal is in charge, and will soon be gone when we vote this latest batch of clowns and losers out in Novembers 2010 and 2012.”
And another suggested it was part of a larger problem of the nation’s loss of its founding values.
“We need to have this tea-party movement grow so that we can go back to the principles of our founding fathers.”
Added a third, clearly irritated at a lot of different government actions in recent days, “It would be deemed controversial if anything negative is reported about Obama or muslims. Next rule, everyone must bring a rug to work, face the east and pray to Allah 5 times of their day …”