Monday, 24 October 2011

Northern Ireland Civil Service - Selective Blocking of Blogs

Apart from occasional blogs here on NALIL, I'm a regular contributor to Northern Ireland's premier political blog, Slugger O'Toole, where I picked up the political blogger of the year award in 2008.

Imagine my surprise when I found out today that Northern Ireland civil servants could access Slugger O'Toole without limitation; I'd known for some time that NALIL was blocked. Slugger has a comment zone where participants could easily spend hours at a time whereas NALIL deliberately has no comment arrangement and most viewers are unlikely to spend more than a few minutes.

Here's a comment from a senior civil servant that a friend received:

I'm afraid our IT security prevents Civil Service staff from accessing blogs at work, but I'll forward this home and have a look at it this evening.

This senior civil servant seems to have been unaware that access to NALIL was available at work by raising a work request to IT Assist. A spokesman for IT Assist told me that clearance can be given in anything from two hours to two days and a civil servant in a Minister's office said that IT Assist's contact number is prominently displayed. At a time of declining budgets you might think that civil servants would take advantage of expertise that is available for free.

I also discovered that political constituency offices use the NICS computer network too and they can access NALIL as well as social networks such as Facebook.