Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Attempting to block the world's news

A friend works as an analyst at a major investment house in New York City, and wrote the following after I sent the link below about the opening of The Waiting Room in that town:

Thanks. Reminds me that I have to get re-approved to open your blog at work. I had it okayed when I first started here.  Since it is a blog I had to get permission, and it was okay, but then they tightened the rules on what we can access and I got knocked off again.

I responded:

Wow.  Think of that.  You are expected to be knowledgeable about things that could affect securities valuations, and the firm is closing off the major source of information to the world--not my blog, but all of them.

The reply:

We can't access New York Times articles if the paper calls them "blogs" either. I do understand that they are trying to protect us and the system and not have us frittering our time away.

Nonsense.  This is just a Neanderthalic view of the world. First, think of what it says about the lack of trust the firm has for its professional staff.  Second, it is an ineffectual measure, in that people can just bypass the company's server and use their iPhones for the same purpose.

I previously discussed hospitals and other firms that blocked social media on their servers.  This is just plain dumb in the new information age.


The sequel!  Just received from my friend:

Yeah, I sold out and upgraded to iPhone 4. So I got to read your blog post after all. Well written. I am in the process now of gathering the approval emails to attach to the Web Site Blocking Exemption Request. Need one from my boss's boss, which he sent quite promptly with a nice GOOD LUCK on it. Now I have to get one back from compliance, and as I don't know the guy from Adam nor he, me, goodness knows how long this is going to take. Plus I am spending half my morning on this, plus the form said it would take 3 days to approve once I submit. And do you know what the crowning glory is? Even if I get approval again I won't be able to open any videos!

My eternal motto is: "Ya can't make this stuff up."


Barry Carol said...

Paul –

I agree that this is dumb and you made the key point that it shows a lack of trust on the part of the employer. I worked my entire career as a securities analyst for four different investment firms, the last one of which was a corporate pension fund. At one point, our analysts were blocked from accessing the websites of major retailers. Our boss had to contact the HQ powers that be to tell them that the pension fund had several hundred million dollars invested in retail stocks and the analysts responsible for those holdings needed access to the sites to do their jobs as thoroughly as possible. The block was promptly lifted after that.

My advice to corporate bosses is to judge your professional staff on their record and their accomplishments as well as their ability to work well with others. The number of hours they toil at their desk or exactly how they spend their time during the day shouldn’t matter as long as they’re getting the job done.

@MarkGraban said...

From Twitter:

Neanderthal-ish is right. But there's a lot of that on Wall St? :-)

G. B. Miller said...

Actually, this is about par for the course. Most large companies/entities (like state guv'ment for example), embrace e-survelliance/monitoring like a junkie needing a fix.

I have a reader who can't open one of my blogs at her job because I have it labeled "adult content".

Even at my job, if I want to access our state lottery website to see if they're hiring, I have to do a work around because it's considered to be a gambling site and thus gets blocked.

Mark Graban said...

Companies also love blocking job search sites, as if that will keep employees from leaving. The company should instead be looking at root causes of low employee engagement and turnover.

Paul Levy said...


Susannah said...

Glad to hear you all chiming in. In case you are intersted, the sequel to the sequel is that, in a burst of efficiency, my request was processed first thing this morning and I now have access to Paul's blog again. *And* the Metropolitan Diary and Diner's Journal "blog" columns in the Times (okay those are not work related, but I read them while scarfing down my lunch sometimes), and at least some videos. Apparently we have to get re-authorized every six or twelve months, not quite clear on which. Still kind of ridiculous. Anyway, back to work...