Wisconsin IT Department Treats Pro-Union Website Like A Porn Site

The website DefendWisconsin.org, which supports union protesters, could not be accessed on the Wisconsin Capitol wifi network on Monday and part of Tuesday, according to various news reports.

The Capitol internet service, which restricts access to certain websites considered inappropriate for lawmakers, revealed a “blocked page” when users tried to access the site using the building’s wireless system.

“Inappropriate” in the context of government web servers is usually a code word for porn.

The Governor’s spokesperson said that the blockage was a routine practice for “all new websites shortly after they are created.”

Really? The State of Wisconsin IT Department blocks all “new” websites from its WiFi network? How do you define “new” site and why would you run a query like that (this URL isn’t in our visited domains database so let’s run a Whois query to see when the domain was registered – my definition of “new”) anyway?

According to Raw Story, “Democratic party officials claimed that it was available at the Capitol until at least last Friday.”

Whether or not the site was accessible last week on the Capitol WiFi system, it wasn’t brand new on Monday when it was inaccessible. The domain was registered on Valentine’s Day, according to the Whois database record. The first press release is dated Valentine’s Day.

It would not be the first time that an employer blocked a union site.

In 2005, in Canada, Telus blocked access to Voices for Change, which was operated by the Telecommunications Workers Union. Michael Geist explained:

The company has confirmed that its nearly one million subscribers are blocked from accessing the site, though it is obviously available to just about everyone else (and presumably to Telus subscribers that engage in some creative Internet surfing)…

… ISPs have persuaded the Supreme Court of Canada, Canadian policy makers, and government officials that the content blocking, whether copyright or child pornography related, is out of their control and bad policy.

To block a specific website that leaves the company uncomfortable is more than just bad policy as well as completely ineffective. It is dangerous. Dangerous for free speech in this country, dangerous for those who believe that the law, not private parties, should determine what remains accessible on ISP networks, and dangerous for the ISPs themselves…

Indeed.

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