Ontario Blocks Access to Facebook

The United States isn't the only government struggling with what to allow employees to view on their government-issued computers during work hours. Ontario's provincial government is too.

When Ontario government employees tried yesterday to call up the social-networking site Facebook, they were presented with an "access denied" message, the Toronto Star reports. "'The Internet web site that you have requested has been deemed unacceptable for use for government business purposes,'" the warning reads," according to the article.

However, Ontario has not blocked the other popular social-networking site MySpace. The Star reports about Facebook:

"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," Phillips told the Toronto Star.

"Our IT ... 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?'" he said.

"It's the ministry making these decisions on trying to ... restrict access to ones that are inappropriate and then to anticipate where one may grow in popularity and we may end up with a lot of OPS time being taken (up) on it."

As a reminder, the Office of Management and Budget requires agencies to create a personal use policy for government equipment, including computers. It refers agencies to a document issued by the federal CIO Council, which states:

Federal employees are permitted limited use of government office equipment for personal needs if the use does not interfere with official business and involves minimal additional expense to the government. This limited personal use of government office equipment should take place during the employee’s non-work time. This privilege to use government office equipment for nongovernment purposes may be revoked or limited at any time by appropriate federal agency or department officials.