Was BBG Watch site blocked by BBG or not? — BBG spokesperson says it was not
Several VOA and BBG employees reported to us that the BBG Watch website, which can be accessed as BBGWatch.com, USGBroadcasts.com, or USGBroadcasting.com was blocked by the BBG on all work computers, which are used by BBG members, BBG staff, and VOA employees. All were convinced that it was a deliberate blocking of the website.
This is what our friends at VOA saw:
Free Media Online, which supports our website, asked the BBG public affairs office for an explanation. We received this response from Letitia King, Director of the BBG Public Affairs Office:
No – The Agency did not block the website. Employees could access it by pressing a “continue” button. The site triggered a “site warning” that was an automated message generated by Websense and went to all its customers.
In case you want to know more here’s what IT security team tells us.
The site warning comes from Websense’s classification engine. It was somehow classified as category “Potentially Damaging Content” which has been a flaky category for us in the past so I have always allowed users to manually override the blocking for this category with the ‘Continue’ button.
I want to stress that this classification was not initiated by myself or anyone else with administrative access to our Websense system. It filtered down from the Global Classification database that Websense distributes to ALL of its customers. I occasionally override the Websense category classifications for certain sites so that they will no longer be blocked. I have now done so for this site so it will not trigger the warning locally.
Ms. King is a highly respected BBG employee and an honorable person. We have no reason to doubt her explanation.
Still it is quite telling that — most certainly because of the BBG’s well deserved reputation among its employees as one of the worst managed federal agencies — everyone who reported this problem to us assumed that BBG executives were behind the attempt to restict access to our BBG Watch website.
We’re glad that it was apparently not the case and we appreciate Ms. King’s efforts to unblock it so that BBG employees will not be intimidated to use our website to learn what’s really going on at their workplace. Thank you Ms. King.
Despite the Websense restriction, which may have been intimidating to many BBG employees, today was our website’s busiest day with over 580 views. You can also follow us and Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BBGWatch