Getting internet access right for staff in the council

In this post Sian Hayward, our improvement manager, talks about getting internet access and security right for staff in the council. We opened access to social media in 2011 but what about access to other sites?

Some categories of site are blocked to staff, such as gambling websites. We obviously don’t need to look at a gambling site to place a bet but what if we were researching Big Lottery funding?

sian haywardHere’s Sian:

I’m about to review the blocked sites and categories as they were put in place many years ago when we used a sledgehammer to stop people using the internet.

I appreciate that schools use the same access as us and I wouldn’t want them to have free access to porn sites etc., but some of the restricted sites are really stupid.

These days I’m encouraging internet and social networking use, and with laptops and agile working meaning employees use work equipment for internet access at any time. It’s a real pain to have sites blocked. I believe it’s a management issue if employees are abusing works time rather than simply restricting all access.

In work I research best practice, and am so frustrated when the sites are blocked and I have to use my own internet access for work purposes. This sometimes happens when I’m looking at financial information or when trying to use free online survey tools etc. Recently I couldn’t book a train ticket because our filtering system refused me access to a ticket purchasing site.

We’re now taking a look at the list of the restricted sites and categories so we can set up a team of interested employees to review it. The team need to:

• Review the list from the perspective that we use the same network as schools and some sites NEED restricting.

• Look at the risks involved to the councils reputation and integrity if they stray into some sites inadvertently (the highways team need to order ‘hard core’ for the roads)

• Review the internet access policy to make it a responsibility of employees NOT to use the internet inappropriately (as opposed to restricting access to sites) and toughen up the penalties for doing so e.g. disciplinary.

We can then have one policy for social media and internet use.

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